RESCUERS saved the lives of a Bury couple who were swept out to sea by a freak wave.
An RNLI lifeboat and RAF helicopter were scrambled after Louisa Barrow and her husband Peter were pulled into the water from a pier over the North Sea at Staithes in North Yorkshire.
Witnesses raced to the scene and one man threw a rope in, to drag mother-of-four Louisa out of the water.
But Peter, aged in his 30s, was flung against the sea wall repeatedly and suffered a broken leg before he was rescued by RNLI lifeboat volunteers and flown to hospital by RAF Sea King helicopter.
He is being treated for taken his injuries at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.
Mrs Barrow thanked the rescuers for saving their lives.
She said: “If it wasn’t for the lifeboat men, both Peter and I would have been dead and our four children would have had no one because Peter and I are all they’ve got.
“Those people have kept us together as a family.”
The accident happened at high tide, when the water almost laps over the edge of the pier. At low tide the water can be 20ft below the pier.
Mrs Barrow described what happened: “We were standing towards the end of the pier. The wave came and it splashed us and we just got a little bit of a splish splash on our jeans and we were laughing.
“Then another wave came and I said ‘gosh, that’s a tsunami, Peter, we’ll get down now’.
“As we both turned to get down — it was over in a matter of seconds — we were just gone. We were in the sea.
“I remember going down under the water and the sound, and the taste and the smell.
“I popped back up and could hear shouting. I could hear Peter on the wall.
“He had a cut to his head and there was all blood in his face.
“He just kept shouting ‘swim, Louisa, swim’ I remember shouting ‘please help me. I’m not a strong swimmer at all.’ “Peter was on the ladder. He kept shouting ‘get to the wall’ and every time I tried to get forward, the wave would pull me back.
“A chap on the quayside threw a rope out and I got it, thank God. I tied it around my hand and he pulled me in.”
The RNLI base is about 200 yards from the pier and its deputy launch operations manager Sean Baxter sprang into action to rescue Mr Barrow on the Pride of Leicester lifeboat.
He told The Bury Times: “He was right by the coastal wall and it was very hard for us to get our boat alongside him, but we managed it when a wave took us in the right direction, thankfully.
“The conditions were too rough for us to go via the lifeboat slipway so we had to go to a different landing spot.”
Paramedics treated Mr Barrow who was taken to hospital by the helicopter, which had flown from RAF Leconfield near Beverley.
Mr Baxter added: “This is the most serious incident we have had at the pier in the last two years, but there are regular instances of people misjudging the waves and getting caught out.
“This was a life-or-death situation and the man is very lucky to have escaped.
“We wish him a speedy recovery.”