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Moment lifeguard drone drops vest into the sea off Valencia coast where boy, 14, was struggling

Moment when rescue drone drops vest into sea off Valencia coast where boy, 14, struggled with powerful tide

  • A drone watched over swimmers off the coast of Valencia in eastern Spain
  • The operators saw a 14-year-old boy struggling in the sea amid crashing waves
  • Using the drone, they released a life jacket and helped float the boy to safety
  • Shortly after, he was successfully picked up by lifeguards using a jet ski

A pioneering drone rescue service rolled out over Spain’s beaches this month saved the life of a 14-year-old boy as he struggled against a powerful tide off a beach in Valencia, operators have said.

The drone dropped a life jacket into the sea that could prop up the teen just as he began to sink beneath the waves, until a physical team of lifeguards arrived moments later.

“When we arrived, we saw a child in very bad shape, with almost no energy to stay afloat, so I sent the life jacket,” Miguel Angel Pedrero, drone pilot for General Drones, the company that provides the technology, told Reuters.

“It was a complicated maneuver because of the heavy waves, but we finally managed to give him the vest and he was able to float until the lifeguards reached him by jet ski.”

The pioneering drone service is credited with saving the life of a 14-year-old boy off the coast of Valencia (pictured) and has rolled out over Spain's beaches

The pioneering drone service is credited with saving the life of a 14-year-old boy off the coast of Valencia (pictured) and has rolled out over Spain’s beaches

Valencia-based General Drones began supporting Spanish lifeguard personnel in the town of Sagunto, just north of Valencia, in 2017.

Now it has more than 30 pilots and their drones working with lifeguards on 22 beaches across Spain, providing rapid response to the critical moments of a potential drowning before lifeguards can physically arrive on the scene.

“These extra seconds are vital in some cases and also allow the rescue teams to approach the person more calmly and cautiously,” added Pedrero.

After being rescued, the 14-year-old, who has not been identified, was sent to a local hospital after paramedics supplied him with oxygen. He was fired 24 hours later.

In the first six months of 2022, a total of 140 people died from drowning in Spain.

This figure represents a 55 percent increase compared to the same period in 2021, according to the Royal Spanish Rescue and Rescue Federation.

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