THIS is the dramatic moment armed officers swooped on a Land Rover driver as he waded out of the sea after a six-hour beach stand-off.
The incident started shortly before 2pm yesterday when concerned relatives called police to say a man had made worrying threats before leaving his Hartlepool home.
A Land Rover was eventually tracked down to Seaton Carew beach where it was driven erratically up and down the coast and into the sea.
Armed police stood guard as a force helicopter hovered overhead with scores of onlookers watching the drama.
The stretch of coast between the Norton Hotel and the Blue Lagoon car park was cordoned off and eventually the incident came to an end around 8.15pm.
The 4x4 was driven into the sea and the driver waded back to the beach and armed officers and police dog handlers waited at the water’s edge to arrest him.
He was taken to the University of North Tees Hospital, in Stockton, and he is due to be quizzed today.
A team of around 30 officers lined the seafront and moved the onlookers back as the vehicle was driven towards the promenade with the driver – who appeared to have lacerations on each side of his face – taunting onlookers through his open window.
Around two hours into the stand-off, with a relative apparently standing alongside police negotiators, a mobile phone was seen to be thrown from the window of the car onto the sand.
Police were joined by ambulance, fire and coastguard crews as dusk fell.
But with the vehicle still being driven frequently in and out of the water, any conclusion to the incident appeared a long way off.
Shortly after 8pm a coastguard vehicle and an unmarked police 4x4 edged onto the sand to track the Land Rover and, after a brief stand-off which saw all three vehicles come to a stop, the Land Rover was driven at speed into the sea and the water rose above its bonnet.
Seconds later a man left the vehicle and waded waist-deep through the sea towards five officers, including a dog handler, with his hands above his head before he was wrestled to the ground and bundled into the coastguard vehicle.
Police confirmed shortly afterwards that a 42-year-old man from Hartlepool had been arrested for a public nuisance offence.
One eyewitness who watched the events unfold told the Mail: “There were a few occasions where I thought the police were just going to outnumber him,
“But it looked serious when the vehicle was driving towards the promenade and shouts could be heard from the window.
“It was all pretty dramatic and while the Land Rover kept driving in and out of the water it appeared to be going in a bit further each time.
“The last time it drove in I thought it was going to be totally submerged.”
A Cleveland Police spokesman said: “The man is in the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, where he is being checked over.
“He will face police questioning in due course.
“We would like to thank local residents for their patience as this was a fairly protracted incident where we had concerns for the man’s emotional well-being.
“So we had to deal with the situation accordingly.
“Several cordons were in place in Seaton Carew throughout the afternoon and evening and again, we appreciate the community’s co-operation while these measures were in place.”