MESSAGES of support are continuing to pour in for Katie MacLean, the girl who risked her own life in an attempt to save her friend. The 14 year-old remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital after being swept into sea by a huge 20-foot wave at Eyemouth harbour on Monday afternoon.
She tried to pull 13 year-old Tempany Sylvester to safety on Monday afternoon after the younger girl was knocked off the harbour when a huge wave came crashing in. But Katie ended up in the water herself.
Tempany was pulled to safety by passers-by and is understood to be shaken but uninjured. Katie, however, was knocked unconscious and, according to eyewitness accounts, face down in the water for up to 20 minutes as the waves continued to batter the harbour walls.
Police and lifeboat crew jumped in to the waves to save her, using ropes to pluck her from the raging torrent. Katie was given CPR on the scene by Eyemouth coastguard station officer Norman Richardson and ambulance crews from Berwick and Chirnside before being airlifted to hospital in Edinburgh.
A spokesperson for the hospital said on Friday, June 8, that she remains in a critical but stable condition.
Messages of support for have been coming in thick and fast.
Eyemouth High School head teacher Dave Watson said: “Obviously our thoughts are with the girls, their families and friends.
“We’ve also put support measures in place for pupils who have been affected by the incident.”
Katie’s Twitter page also reflected the level of concern from those who know her with Shannon Smith tweeting on Tuesday ‘I love you @katiemaclean5 stay strong !!!! Xxxxxxxx’ and Brooke Heary posting ‘come on baby @katiemaclean5 I am always here for you huni xxxxx’
And more recent Tweets include one from Twitter user Amie Gregory from Plymouth, where Katie moved to Eyemouth from a few months ago. It reads ‘@katiemaclean5 stay strong, you’re so brave! thoughts to your family, I love you! <3’
Further tweets include one from user TempanyLoves1D reading ‘@katiemaclean5 love you Katie please get better we know you can do it xxxxxxx’ and one from meganbush98 saying ‘@katiemaclean5 stay strong angel,I know you can pull through this,everyone believes in you, love you lots, thinking of you<3’
East Berwickshire councillor Michael Cook commented: “This whole incident will be so incredibly distressing for Katie, her family and friends. One minute they are enjoying the holiday weekend, the next they are plunged into a maelstrom of emotions.
“This is quite apart from the physical injuries Katie suffered.
“I know all of us will be wishing Katie a full and speedy recovery, and her family and friends the peace of mind that that recovery will bring.”
Honorary Provost of Eyemouth, Jo Pawley, was also quick to pass on her support, adding: “The incident was very upsetting for all involved. Everyone’s thoughts are with the girls and their families after what was an awful freak accident.
“It’s nice to see that members of the community were quick to try and help and our thoughts and prayers must also go to the rescuers as I know they were also very shocked and distressed by the whole thing.”
Mr Richardson, 53, confirmed that Tempany had gone in to the water first and Katie had tried to help her.
He said: “Katie was leaning out from the wall trying to reach Tempany who had fallen in first.
“A swell then struck and washed Katie off the wall where she was dragged under water while trying to save her friend.”
Douglas Stewart, 43, who owns The Tavern, Eyemouth, was one of the first people who went into the water to try to save Katie.
The lifeboat volunteer, with 11 years experience, said: “I was the first in the water after a local came in the pub.
“I went down to the sea front and went straight into the water and tried to swim towards the girl.
“I couldn’t reach Katie and I realised it was too dangerous for me to stay in the water unaided.”
He added: “I climbed out of the water and contacted my wife and she then contacted the police and the coastguard.
“She had gone into the water to rescue the other girl.
“Katie looked like a strong swimmer but she was fully dressed wearing a hooded jumper and it was weighing her down.
“She looked lifeless when she was pulled out of the water. The cops and the ambulance were on the scene within minutes.
“The public played a great part in helping Katie and were very determined.”
Speaking from her home, a relieved Julie Tyler, Tempany’s mum, was quoted as saying the whole family were “very shaken up” by what had happened and their thoughts were firmly with Katie.
She commented: “We are all just waiting to hear about Katie now. I really want to say thank you to everyone who was involved in the rescue.
“One woman, Charlene McCulloch, was down at the beach with her son and she was first in the water to pull my daughter out, I am so thankful to her.
“There was lots of people involved in the rescue. It was terrible as there should have been life buoys there but I heard some people had to use dog leads to try to help.”
Hours before Monday’s incident which stunned everyone in Eyemouth, a number of people in the town had uploaded photographs to Twitter of what they described as ‘angry waves at Eyemouth’, and Johnnie Walker, who was visiting family in the town, said he had never seen waves so high.
“I lived in Eyemouth for more than 18 years and did not seen waves like this often,” he told us.
“There were a number of children and young adults playing along the sea wall, running in and out of the sea spray as it came over the wall. I’d judge that the waves on the beach were often higher than 20 feet and what did wash over the wall was regularly more than 10 feet of spray.
“I was away from the front as the girls were washed out, but the members of the public who were at the scene were selflessly doing all they could to try and help, improvising a line to try and pull the girls in.”