Dramatic seaside rescue as ice cream truck washed out to sea at vacationer hotspot

An ice cream truck had to be dramatically rescued after it washed out to sea.

The Kelly’s ice-cream van got stuck in the sand at the western end of Harlyn Bay beach, North Cornwall, as the tide began to turn on Sunday afternoon. Despite multiple attempts to pull the van out of the water, the tide was too strong, and it was left swirling against the rocks before a local tractor was brought in to pull the van out of the sea.

Witness Abi Fisk said she witnessed a 4×4 with a winch close by trying “really hard to pull it free” when it was first swept into the ocean. Abi explained how “lots of surfers” and other people on the beach attempted to help.

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Onlookers watched as surfers tried to help
Onlookers watched as surfers tried to help

She said: “The driver of the ice-cream van drove straight down the bottom of the beach – to the lowest point of low tide. The beach was packed – it was the first proper summer beach day we have had in a couple days now, so it was a gorgeous day and he probably wanted the business.

“But then the tide started coming in, and he couldn’t drive off. Some people in the car park in a 4×4 tried to winch him out, but the front tyre had sunk into the sand. So, they even tried to tow the van whilst it was stuck in the sea, but then it got completely wedged in some rocks.

“The guy nearly lost his 4×4 vehicle himself, so the lifeguards recommended he leave and they take over. Not long after the 4×4 abandoned the ice cream van, the coast guards were keeping watch: observing it and making sure it didn’t go out any further, and no one swam out to it.

Oh no . . .
Oh no . . .

“As you can imagine it was the best entertainment for everybody on the beach! Everyone stood there in amazement!

“Even the surfers started surfing past the van – it was quite surreal and it looked like one of those end of the world films – where the Statue of Liberty is peeping out from the ocean and you have ice cream vans bopping about in the water. Then last night at around 10pm, a local tractor driver got it out and that was that.”

A spokesperson for HM Coastguard said the van owner arranged for a recovery of the vehicle at around 9.45, when the tide was low enough for recovery. They said in a statement: “Just before 5 yesterday afternoon (07 July) HM Coastguard was made aware of an ice cream van that was caught by the tide at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall.

“Padstow Coastguard Rescue Team and RNLI Lifeguards were sent to ensure the safety of those involved. The driver was safe and well and not in the vehicle.

“The owner arranged a recovery vehicle which recovered the van at around 9:45pm when tide receded enough for it to be safe to do so. Coastguard rescue officers left once the vehicle was recovered and in a safe location.”

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