A FAMILY has spoken of their gratitude to rescuers who helped save their trip to the beach from ending in tragedy.

Liz Fleming went with her partner Sean and their children to Walton Beach on Saturday for a fun day out.

But the day took a turn for the worse when Sean began drowning in the water.

The alarm was raised and emergency services were called to assist.

Stewart Oxley, operations manager at Walton and Frinton RNLI, said: “Following a 999 call Walton lifeboat has assisted in the rescue and recovery of four people from the sea by Walton Pier.

“All casualties were taken to hospital or reunited with family as appropriate.”

The incident happened at around 12.45pm and Mike Jones, who was taking some pictures of the scenery, unknowingly took some pictures of the disaster in action.

He added: “I was just walking around the Pier taking in the views because I come here often and took some random pictures.

“When I was walking towards the RNLI headquarters, I saw the lifeboat crew run past me to the scene and the ambulances arrived as well.”

As well as the East of England Ambulance Service, Tendring Beach Patrol were also on the scene to assist.

In a Facebook post, Liz said: “What started as a fun day at Walton Beach on Saturday with my partner Sean and his children ended with a traumatic incident.

“Sean nearly drowned and there were so many people that helped on the day.

"If you were there and helped we would like to thank each and every one of you including emergency services.

“The children are fine and after spending 24 hours in hospital Sean is home and OK as well.”

Liz said she did not want to comment further at this time.

Sean was helped by a man who the family also thanked but could not identify.

A response to Liz’s grateful Facebook post said: “My partner noticed the children struggling and calling her for help.

“She went in to save the children and got caught in the riptide after helping them.

“My brother ended up pulling the children out of the sea and Sean too.”