LONDON — A man and his 9-year-old son, trapped on a beach in northwestern England by a swift incoming tide, drowned as searchers talking to them by cell phone raced against time to reach them, police said Sunday.
Stewart Rushton, 51, and his son Adam had gone fishing Saturday on the beach at Morecambe Bay, 45 miles north of Liverpool.
After they had walked out onto the sands for 10 minutes, a heavy fog rolled in suddenly and Rushton, realizing they were lost, made an emergency call at 2:30 p.m.
In a series of increasingly desperate phone calls between Rushton and the police and the coast guard, the emergency services tried to pinpoint the pair's location as the tide began to rush in. Thick fog reduced visibility to 25 yards.
At 3:07, Rushton said the water was up to his neck. Adam, sitting on his father's shoulders, answered the phone.
"My dad is all right," the boy said before passing the phone to his father.
"He was shouting. I said, 'Be reassured, we have got units coming to your assistance,"' a coast guard spokesman said. "It became very distressing for both sides.
"We could hear the sound of water and the father was shouting," he said.
Officers standing on the shore could hear his cries but dared not enter the water because of the treacherous tide. Police later tried to call the mobile phone but failed to get through.
"He sounded as though he was a few hundred yards offshore but with the fog and the mist, they couldn't tell where he was," said Police Constable Tony Hawson.
The search was called off for the night at 8:45 p.m. A dozen of Rushton's relatives joined the search when it resumed early Sunday.
Rushton's son-in-law found his body at about 10 a.m. A body believed to be Adam's was found Sunday afternoon, further down the coast.