Warning after surfer's leg is impaled by her board in freak accident on Lincolnshire coast

A Lincolnshire surfer is warning others to wait to ride the waves until lifeguards return to beaches after her leg was impaled by her board in a freak accident.

Helena Greetham was looking forward to going surfing at Sandilands.

Helena Greetham was catching some waves at Sandilands when she nosedived and was flung about underwater.

"I thought I was okay and that I had just banged my leg on my board," said the 24-year-old English Literature student from Orby.

"It hurt quite a bit so I started limping out the water.

The injury needed 27 stitches.

"When I put my hand to my thigh I noticed it felt odd and looked down to see a huge rip in my wetsuit and a lot more gore.

"The nose of my brand new surfboard was also cracked where it had impaled my left thigh."

A former water sports instructor, Helena said she had been a bit nervous about getting back in the water after suffering a surf kayaking accident in Dorset when she lived for a while.

Howver, she was keen to go surfing due to lack of exercise with swimming pools being closed because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Helena Greetham has been surfing for six years but says accidents can happen to anyone.

"I have surfed for six years but always stuck to breaks I knew and made sure the surf was never too big," she said. "I am more of a relaxed surfer that just enjoys being out there than one that chases the thrills.

"I knew Sandilands was the place where all the local surfers went and had surfed there a few times a few years before with some friends.

"After the accident I went immediately into slight shock and started shouting for my partner who had been watching me from the shore.

"He was seriously worried but trying to keep calm and with the help of a few locals carried me to the wall out the sand and wrapped a T-shirt around my thigh."

A surfer is urging others to wait until lifeguards return to the Lincolnshire coast after her leg was impaled by her board in an accident.

Pressures on East Midlands Ambulance Service meant an ambulance still hadn't arrived one-and-a-half hours later.

"They were so busy that day, even though it was a Monday," said Helena.

"I was starting to get cold and shake all over so my mother couldn’t wait any more and drove me straight to Pilgrim Hospital in Boston where I had to stay overnight and wait for a spot in theatre.

"They were completely overrun. I had a spinal anaesthetic and they sewed me up with 27 stitches and a few underneath the skin too.

Helena Greetham's leg was impaled by her board while surfing at Sandilands.

"The NHS staff were amazing. It was my first time in hospital and even though my family couldn’t be there the nurses made me feel so comfortable despite how scared I was of having an anaesthetic."

Ahead of visitors returning to the cast, the incident has highlighted "the sheer power of the elements".

"No matter how much experience you have, accidents happen and beach users must really take care of themselves," said Helena.

"I’m hanging up my extreme sports passion now and going to concentrate on just my swimming once gyms are opened again and concentrating on my degree."

Lincolnshire Lifeguard Supervisor Arun Gray said the incident "highlights the importance of only entering the water at a lifeguarded beach, when lifeguards are on duty".

"We're expecting this summer to be one of the busiest ever following a winter of government restrictions and those that might remain in place in terms of international travel," said Arun.

"It's important to learn from near-misses like this and it is encouraging to hear the surfer advising swimmers to wait until lifeguard patrols begin before entering the water.

"Not only are our lifeguards highly trained in rescuing casualties from the water, they also complete high-level first aid training and are often experienced in frequently dealing with such incidents."

Lifeguards will be on duty in Skegness and Mablethorpe from May 29. Patrols in Sutton on Sea and Ingoldmells begin on July 3. Lifeguards will be on duty from 10am until 6pm every day until the season ends on September 5.

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