Two searches in 24 hours for teen missing at cliffs

A teenage boy who is fond of hiding in caves up at Beachy Head sparked two major search and rescues in 24 hours this week.

Helicopters were scrambled, lifeboats launched and police officers and coastguards were called out to search for the 15-year-old boy, who has learning difficulties, on two occasions on Monday.

The first was on Monday morning after the boy’s mother reported him missing at 8.30am and feared he was hiding in caves at Beachy Head.

Emergency services rushed to the scene fearing that because of the high tide the boy would become trapped and distressed and the police helicopter circled the area.

He was located in a cave and the search stood down after he refused to come out and his mother took him some food.

But the lifeboats and coastguards, extra police officers, members of the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Service and the rescue helicopter from Lee-on-Solent were called out again in freezing conditions at 11pm to search for him when he failed to return home from the beach area at Falling Sands.

During that search the boy’s mother went with police officers to Cow Gap where she insisted on going onto the beach alone to look for her son.

An Eastbourne lifeboat spokesperson said, “Unable to follow, contact was lost with the police. A comprehensive search of the whole area using thermal imaging equipment and two lifeboat crewman who were put ashore through the surf, continued for the next two and a half hours with nothing found.

“The ‘missing’ pair were eventually discovered safe and well at home in bed presumably having left the scene shortly after initial contact was lost. The volunteer crews, cold and exhausted were stood down at 1.45am.”