Lifeboat crews launched a dramatic sea rescue at Seaton Carew last night as a jet ski tragedy was averted.
Four people became stranded in the water shortly after 5pm yesterday.
Three of them had fallen off a jet ski, with the other having swam out to help them.
Volunteers from Hartlepool RNLI rescued the quartet, with three of the casualties taken to hospital with suspected hypothermia.
A spokesman for Hartlepool RNLI said: "Hartlepool RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched at 5.12pm on Sunday following a request by Humber Coastguard to recover four people from the water at Seaton Carew, after three of the casualties had fallen off a jet ski and a fourth person who had swam out to help were unable to return to the beach.
"The RNLI inshore lifeboat and volunteer crew recovered the four people who were suffering with cold and shock, and brought them back to the lifeboat station where they received first aid attention from the lifeboat station doctor, and paramedics.
"One of the casualties was taken to hospital by ambulance and two other casualties were transferred to hospital by Hartlepool Coastguard.
"The fourth casualty who had swam out to the incident was allowed to return home from the lifeboat station."
Hartlepool RNLI Lifeboat operations manager Mike Craddy said: "A quick response from our inshore lifeboat crew meant that we were on scene very quickly and recovered the four casualties before the situation deteriorated.
"Once again this weekend the dedication from the volunteer crew members has been outstanding and all of us hope the casualties recover quickly from their ordeal."
A spokesman for Hartlepool Coastguard Rescue Team said: "We were paged by Humber CGOC to reports of a capsized jet ski with three people on board in the Seaton Carew area.
"Hartlepool RNLI located the casualties along with another member of the public who had gone in to help rescue them, and transported them to their station to be monitored by their doctor.
"We liaised with Hartlepool RNLI to find where the casualties were being taken to as rescue helicopter 912 was en route so a landing site was needed.
"Once the casualties had been assessed by paramedics and the Hartlepool lifeboat doctor, it was decided that the helicopter was not needed and they returned to their base.
"The casualties were taken to hospital with suspected hypothermia.
"Great multi agency work ensured a safe outcome for all involved and we wish them all a speedy recovery. Seaham Coastguard were also paged to assist.
"Remember to call 999 in all coastal emergencies and ask for the Coastguard."