Unbelievable! What sort of a reckless fool father takes two young children this close to a sea front being smashed by huge storm waves?
This family was spotted walking along the seafront on Mullion Cove in Cornwall as high tides and gale-force winds battered the coast, disregarding pleas by rescuers to stay away from coastlines.
As the boy walks on ahead with no adult taking charge of him, the man lifts the girl, aged around three years old, in his arms to get a better look of the sea - and is then swept off his feet by a 20ft wave crashing over the seawall.
Onlooker Phil Rodda, 56, described how the man was knocked off his feet by the wave still clutching on to his daughter and how his family was lucky to escape alive.
The retired civil servant said: "We went down to see how rough the sea was – but from a safe distance away.
"We could see the young family, a man and a woman with three or four kids in all. The man was lifting his little girl up against the railings so she could get a better view.
"Suddenly this huge wave came crashing over the harbour wall and knocked the dad off his feet. He fell back onto the ground, still clutching the girl – they were very close to being swept away.
"The mother then ran over and grabbed the girl before they traipsed off looking drenched and rather sheepish.
"Anyone who knows the sea around here knows what it's capable off so I'm guessing they were from out of town.
"It was a ludicrous thing to do and incredibly dangerous."
Shockingly, the drama happened in the same harbour where a couple were swept to their deaths by a wave during a seaside stroll in March 2007.
Patricia Evans, 43, and Stephen Tickell, 42, of Slough, Berks., died on the first day of their holiday as similar storms battered the area.
The man took the children this close to the sea despite the fact that two people died in the South West on New Year's Eve alone.
A man was swept out to sea while paddling with friends near Porthleven, Cornwall, and a woman died while body boarding in Croyde, North Devon.
Yesterday the Environment Agency slammed those who had ignored warnings to stay away from coastal areas following the two deaths.
"Clearly it is dangerous to get too close to these waves," a spokesman said.
"There is colossal power in these waves that can knock people off their feet. We would advise people to keep well away.
"There have already been two fatalities this year already and we urge you not to add to those statistics.
"Keep well away and if you are going to watch the waves keep up on high ground and well clear of the actual waves breaking over the sea front and promenades or anywhere you could be knocked off your feet."
Tamsin Thomas, for the RNLI, said: "If you are going down to the coast try and avoid exposed places where big waves might sweep you off your feet and avoid going near fast flowing water.
"This includes rivers which are very swollen at the moment and are moving far faster than they normally would.
"The water is very, very powerful, don't underestimate how powerful it can be."
Carmarthenshire County Council called in the police to move on sightseers who turned out in large numbers at Burry Port, south west Wales.
Council spokesman Ron Cant said: "What they cannot know is what is in these waves. People were literally putting their lives at risk by being there."