COASTGUARDS have slammed the madness of “idiotic” thrillseekers who risked their lives by going on a Hartlepool pier as 30ft waves crashed into it.
The Headland’s Heugh Breakwater was battered by rough seas at the weekend, and similar scenes are expected this week with the wintry weather having returned.
But that did not stop this group of four men, caught on camera by the Mail’s chief photographer Tom Collins, risking their safety.
Coastguard chiefs in Hartlepool blasted their antics as idiotic and said they could easily have been washed over.
Greg Albrighton, HM Coastguard operations manager for the North East, said: “It is obviously extremely dangerous and idiotic behaviour.
“Every year there are fatalities on places like the Heugh breakwater. People get washed off.
“People are taking risks but not thinking about the consequences.
“Especially at this time of year, people will be washed off structures .
“I would say to people if it is rough have a look and think, it is not worth it.
“The consequences are not worth the risk.”
Greg pointed to recent emergencies where people had to be rescued from piers up and down the North East coast after getting caught on them in bad weather.
A fisherman died when he was hit by a wave on the South Gare in Redcar in October 2011.
Greg added: “We’ve had two or three serious incidents in recent years including at South Gare at Redcar and quite a bad incident at Roker Pier in Sunderland where a guy was badly injured and we had to bring 15 people off the pier through a rescue tunnel.”
Headland Parish Council leaders echoed the Coastguard’s calls and is urging people to stay off piers in rough weather.
Councillor Jim Ainslie, chairman of the parish council, said: “The waves can reach 40 or 50 feet in the air at times when there is a prevailing north easterly wind.
“Common sense should tell people not to go anywhere along there when the seas are that high.
“Even now as I look out the window when it is not high tide, the seas are very high.
“You can get a spectacular view from the promenade, there is no reason to go any nearer.”