Heroic St Albans surfer battles rip current to rescue teenager in danger

James Donnelly, 14, who was rescued by St Albans hero Oliver Stockwell. Picture: Sheryl Donnelly

James Donnelly, 14, who was rescued by St Albans hero Oliver Stockwell. Picture: Sheryl Donnelly - Credit: Archant

A St Albans surfer swooped to the rescue and saved a drowning boy and his mum from being dragged out to sea.

Fourteen-year-old James Donnelly was out on his bodyboard in Treyarnon Bay, Cornwall, when he lost control and began drifting away from the shore.

Spotting the danger, former Verulam School pupil Oliver Stockwell, 18, paddled over to bring him to safety on nearby rocks.

James’ mum, Sheryl Donnelly, 35, spotted her son drifting away from the shore on his board, and after hearing his desperate cries tried swimming out to help, only to see Oliver come to the rescue.

She explained: “James had been caught in a rip current which is very dangerous, but I noticed someone coming from the right side on a bodyboard towards him.”

She watched Oliver help him onto the side of his own bodyboard without flipping it over, and steer them to safety on a rocky outcrop.

Sheryl said: “He made sure my son was up on the rocks before himself. If James had not been rescued by Oliver, I don’t think I would have made it out of the sea, so he also saved my life.”

Most Read

Falmouth Coastguard said they had been called to the scene following 999 calls reporting swimmers in difficulty, and spotted a swimmer drifting towards the rip current on the southern side of the beach.

With fading light, they used vehicles to light the beach, and realised that James had been brought to safety on the rocks by Oliver, but Sheryl was still in the water.

A spokesperson said: “Team members directed her to swim out of the current at right angles, and members of the public assisted her to the shoreline.”

James and his mum were taken into the care of the Coastguard prior to the arrival of an ambulance, which took Sheryl to hospital for further examination.

She added: “Oliver and his family waited until I was out of the water and with the paramedics. Oliver is a true hero. He put my son before himself and I can’t thank him enough.

“We will be forever thankful he saved our lives and he needs recognition for his actions that night for the hero that he is.”