Reckless driver ploughs through flooded causeway

This picture captures the moment that a reckless driver ploughed through the flooded Holy Island causeway, almost an hour after the safe-crossing time.

Friday, 5th October 2018, 11:00 am
Updated Saturday, 6th October 2018, 1:18 pm
The van driving along a flooded Holy Island causeway after the safe-crossing times.

With the rescue hut in the background, the image shows three men in a white Mercedes van driving through the water at around 5pm on Saturday.

According to the tide times, the safe-crossing period ended at 4.10pm and did not resume until 9.50pm.

The incident came just a week after several vehicles were trapped by the rising waters on the causeway in the space of just three days – with four people rescued after two vehicles were cut off by the tide on Saturday, September 22, while two people had to wait in the refuge box until the tide receded after their vehicle got stuck on Thursday, September 20. In both incidents, the trapped motorists had tried to cross an hour after the safe-crossing times.

Frustratingly, they were the latest in a long line of causeway strandings. In fact, in last week’s Gazette, our nostalgia page carried a story from 50 years ago, about a family which needed rescuing from the notorious stretch after being caught by the tide.

There are already warning signs in place, but, after each incident, critics take to social media to call for further preventative measures, from fining guilty drivers to installing barriers – although this option was unpopular with islanders when suggested several years ago.

Following the latest incidents, the Gazette contacted Northumberland County Council to see if any more could be done.

A spokeswoman said: “The council has put a lot of work into tackling the problem of motorists becoming stranded on the Holy Island causeway.

“The measures that we have put in place are designed to safeguard people, vehicles and property, while at the same time trying not to impinge on the lives of local residents.

“The digital signs at each end of the causeway have had a positive impact, however some motorists are still choosing to disregard them. They are risking their own lives and those of their families, while putting an unnecessary financial burden on the emergency services.

“We constantly monitor the situation and have reviewed the wording on the signs to make sure that they are as effective as possible.”