12/10/2010 09:26 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Two Girls Saved From Drowning By A Space Hopper

Two terrified teenaged girls swept out to sea were saved from drowning - by a SPACE HOPPER.

The inflatable orange toy was thrown to the panic-stricken pair after they were taken too far out to reach a life buoy.

The girls, aged 15 and 16, were moments away from drowning in rough conditions.

But they managed to grab on to the orange plaything and float to a buoy while a lifeboat crew rushed out to save them off the coast of Dawlish in Devon.

Bricklayer Matthew Gribble, 24, had heard the girls' screams from his flat in the seaside town.

He ran almost a mile to the sea wall and joined by pals Andrew Riches and Leigh Larratt, both also 24, they threw the girls topredo life clinging bouys - but not far enough.
A neighbour then appeared from their home carrying the bulky space hopper and Matthew hurled it out to sea.

Leigh told The Sun: "We were just trying to scream to them to swim to the life buoy.

"The only thing that saved them was one of my neighbours, Shane, brought out a space hopper.

"Matt, with a brilliant throw, managed to get it right next to the girls

"The space hopper saved the day."

Lifeboat crews from Exmouth and Teignmouth and a rescue helicopter from Portland, Dorset, were scrambled.

The Exmouth crew battled strong winds and ferocious waves to pluck the girls to safety, who were treated in an Exeter hospital.

Lifeboat helmsman Giles White said: "A few more minutes and the girls would most likely have drowned. They were so near to dying. Any longer and we would have been pulling out bodies."

The 15-year-old, who was semi-conscious and had inhaled sea water, was released from hospital after a night in intensive care.