Hear moment frantic mother tells coastguard: ‘My daughters are drowning’

A mother has shared her frantic 999 call as her two daughters were swept out to sea. Milena Smith was visiting Barmouth for the day on August 3 with her husband, Dave, and her two daughters Mabel, 12, and Elsie, 10, when the girls suddenly disappeared in the sea.

Elsie, who had learned to float “like a starfish” in school only weeks before, shouted those instructions to her sister who turned on her back. Milena and Dave, from Birkenhead, heard their girls screaming in the water but couldn’t see them. As Milena rushed to call the coastguard Dave dived into the water to race after the children. In the call Milena is heard telling the operator: “My daughters are drowning”.

She screams at the call handler: “I can’t see them. can’t see them. My children are 10 and 12. I can’t see them anymore. My husband has gone in to try to find them. I can’t see them. I think they are way out of their depths.”

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Elsie Smith (left), 10, encouraged her elder sister Mabel to float
Elsie Smith (left), 10, encouraged her elder sister Mabel to float
(Image: Ian Cooper/North Wales Live)

Coastguard maritime operations officer Ben Hiller who took the call, can be heard reassuring Milena that help was on the way. Having told her that crews were already in the area Milena can be heard asking someone: “Please tell me she’s breathing. Is she all right? I just want my family out of the sea.” It’s at that moment Milena spots her husband walking toward her with Elsie. She says: “My husband has one of my children. I think the other one got swept out. Where is my other one?”

Thankfully, while Milena was on the phone with the operator, RNLI volunteers located Mabel around a quarter of a mile out to sea floating on her back as her sister had instructed, NorthWalesLive reports. As part of the RNLI’s Float to Live campaign at school Elsie had been taught that if you ever find yourself getting into difficulty in water you should lean back and spread your arms and legs to stay afloat and control your breathing.

The family returned on Wednesday to share their story in the hope it will help others
The family returned on Wednesday to share their story in the hope it will help others
(Image: Ian Cooper/North Wales Live)

The family were back in north Wales on Wednesday to thank the RNLI and HM Coastguard for saving their daughters’ lives. Milena said: “I walked out into the sea but I couldn’t see them anymore and I couldn’t see my husband anymore. I had this image in my head of driving home by myself. I came with the family but I would be driving home by myself. All of my family was out there. It was absolutely terrifying.

“Quite quickly we were back together, we were safe, the girls were okay. It has really changed us as a family – we’re now much closer. Obviously it was a very terrifying incident but we have decided that we will not let this control our lives.” She added that while Mabel and Elsie initially said they never wanted to go in the sea again Milena quickly got them both back into swimming lessons when they returned home and has now decided to learn how to swim herself.

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