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I looked away for a moment and my daughter had vanished: A mother reveals the terrifying 25 minutes she lost her child at the beach

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I looked away for a moment and my daughter had vanished: A mother reveals the terrifying 25 minutes she lost her child at the beach

Post by bluj1515 on Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:10 pm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1206200/I-looked-away-moment-daughter-vanished-A-mother-reveals-terrifying-25-minutes-lost-child-beach.html

She'd gone in the blink of an eye. One moment my three-year-old
daughter was playing beside me in the sand on a Sussex beach. The next
she was gone.
I was distracted for something like ten
seconds by an angry wasp, and when I looked up Katya had disappeared,
lost in a crowd of 800 people on Camber Sands on a lovely summer's day.

The first moments of panic are horrendous: bewilderment, mad
swivelling of the head, a tightness in the throat, then chest pains and
the ghastly realisation that there was water everywhere.
I thought of Madeleine McCann, of vile and loathsome paedophiles and of Lord knows what else.
Where
is she? Where is she? Had Katya been snatched? Had she run into the
water and was she, by now, already struggling to stay afloat? And if
she had simply wandered off, which way did she go and how long would it
take to find her?
In front of me was the sea, behind me
sand dunes and behind that the road. And on the beach, to the right and
left, lots of people. Strangers. It is every parent's nightmare. But until it happens to you, you can have no concept of how great that nightmare is.
My
husband, Harry, had gone to a cash machine so that we could enjoy lunch
together, followed by an ice cream afterwards for Katya.
But for a very short while I was alone with her among the dunes. We adopted Katya two years ago from Russia, where she would never have known the thrill of a day at the seaside. So this expedition was especially exciting for her and she had looked forward to it for weeks.
And,
of course, we both feel an extraordinary duty of care to this special
little girl, who has only ever known us as Mummy and Daddy. We watch
her religiously every minute of her life. But suddenly she was nowhere
in sight.
After building her little sandcastle, she had
picked up her bucket to collect pebbles, imitating Makka Pakka, who
parents and grandparents will recognise as one of the characters from
the BBC children's TV programme In The Night Garden.
Makka
Pakka collects and polishes stones. Obviously, Katya had no concept of
how far she was drifting away from me in those few vital seconds, but
when I looked up and couldn't see her, fear consumed me immediately.
You are supposed to stay calm in these situations and I am naturally laid back.
But
in that split second I became a lunatic, running towards the sea
screaming 'Katya! Katya!' sprinting back to the picnic blanket,
sobbing, then clutching my chest because I was beginning to
hyperventilate.
A man wearing a T-shirt saying 'Beach Patrol' arrived and started trying to calm me down.
The poor chap had no chance. He said: 'Don't worry, we'll find her.' And I was screeching: 'But you don't know that!'I had to describe Katya and what she was wearing. 'Three years old,
dark blonde hair in a pony tail, floral bikini bottoms . ..' And that
was about it.
As journalists, Harry and I both know what a horrible world we live in.
I thought of poor Sarah Payne, snatched in Sussex by a paedophile in 2000 - a story my husband had covered as a crime reporter.
And, of course, poor Maddie McCann, who was abducted in the Algarve the day after we brought Katya home from Russia in May 2007.We had watched the news headlines that day, looked at each other and
realised how vulnerable small children are. So when the beach patrol
Land Rover arrived, I was beside myself, jabbering about Madeleine and
howling the place down.
The young driver was justifiably
firm with me. He said: 'Talking about Madeleine McCann is not very
helpful. You are the only person on this beach who knows what your
daughter looks like, so putting your head in your hands will not help
anyone. We need you to look to the right and the left. To the right and
the left, please!'
I thought at the time he was a bit hard on me, but he was right. I was completely in the basket.
It's
amazing how quickly these experts work and when he discovered my
husband was not far away, he suggested I call him and tell him the
ghastly news.
At that moment, I felt like the world's worst
mother and I must admit I thought about Kate McCann. I thought: 'My
little girl has been snatched and they will say I shouldn't have looked
away for two seconds... I'll get the blame, they will tip it over me, I
am useless. .. God help me.'

Men loathe women crying, don't they? And the poor coastguards cop for it all the time.
Thirty
children a day go missing on Camber Sands alone, I later discovered.
And that's just one beach in the UK, so that adds up to an awful lot of
hysterical parents.
But the young man trying to calm me down said he had worked at Camber Sands for nine years without ever losing a child.
So
I called Harry and he arrived breathless a few minutes later. They
quickly put him in the Land Rover in my place to continue the search.
Quite
right, too, because by then I was clutching my chest, having an asthma
attack (and I don't have asthma) and ranting about Maddie and Sarah and
anything else you could mention.
When I left the Land Rover
and Harry got in, the driver and his right-hand man looked at each
other as if to say: 'Well, now we might stand a chance.'
The worst moment for Harry was when the driver asked: 'Does your little girl like the water.'



And he knew, of course, what that meant. Harry told me afterwards
that when he was walking up to the beach, he thought there might be
about 50 people there, but there were hundreds and hundreds and his
first thoughts were 'Jaws' and 'Christ help us'.
Danger and desperation. But he was very calm, which is what you need when a child is missing.
Ten
agonising minutes later came the flood of relief. It turned out that
Katya had wandered for half-a-mile - half-a-mile and she only weighs
2st.
A woman had found her sobbing, saying: 'Mummy,
Mummeeeee!' Her saviour called the beach patrol and they drove Harry
along the sands to get her.
She had been missing for 25
minutes, but it felt like a lifetime. Harry called me and said: 'We've
got her, darling, we've got her.' I keep replaying in my mind
that moment when the Land Rover arrived, with Katya in Harry's arms,
her tiny face swollen from crying.
She said: 'You lost me
Mummy, and Daddy found me.' And she handed over the bucket of stones
she had been collecting. 'I got these for you,' she said.
And
everyone on the beach, seeing us reunited, broke into applause. Harry
hugged me close and said: 'Better to be born lucky than rich, darling.'
We have since discovered that there are plenty of devices which help reunite parents and lost children.
These
range from simple wristbands with your mobile phone number on, to
sophisticated versions which emit a loud beeping noise if the child
wanders more than 30ft away.There are even global tracking
systems which show where children are on a hand-held monitor. I shall
be investing in all of them.
There are still those who
criticise the parents of Madeleine McCann, most of them - in my view -
ill-informed. Cast the first stone and all that . . . I never
have and never will condemn the McCanns. They made one mistake in not
locking their holiday flat in the Algarve and they paid an enormous
price. And I admire them for not giving up the search. I know how they feel - though, it must be said, to a far smaller degree.
Our nightmare went on for 25 minutes. Theirs is still with them, two years after their daughter disappeared.
Now that former Scotland Yard officers are on the case, I pray that, like us, their ordeal will have a happy ending.







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Re: I looked away for a moment and my daughter had vanished: A mother reveals the terrifying 25 minutes she lost her child at the beach

Post by dianeh on Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:49 pm

We have all felt that panic. I have a few occasions where I was also having an anxiety attack because I thought I had lost one of my children. i was feeling it all over again, reading that article.

And she is right, the McCanns made a mistake, and the price that Madeleine and themselves have paid has been terrible. Let their ordeal be over very very soon.
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Re: I looked away for a moment and my daughter had vanished: A mother reveals the terrifying 25 minutes she lost her child at the beach

Post by Catkins on Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:59 pm

dianeh wrote:We have all felt that panic. I have a few occasions where I was also having an anxiety attack because I thought I had lost one of my children. i was feeling it all over again, reading that article.

And she is right, the McCanns made a mistake, and the price that Madeleine and themselves have paid has been terrible. Let their ordeal be over very very soon.
Totally agree..............
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Re: I looked away for a moment and my daughter had vanished: A mother reveals the terrifying 25 minutes she lost her child at the beach

Post by Guest on Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:27 pm

I was reading that on 3A this morning. This was an honest expression of feelings from a mother.

Then I read the replies taking her to bits about even talking about it and then discecting each paragraph to challenge her feelings.

Mum's child went missing, honest incite directly from someone with that experiance. That is allowed isn't it 3A? Or has nobody on 3A's ever been in that situation? Perfect people never make mistakes, huh?

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Re: I looked away for a moment and my daughter had vanished: A mother reveals the terrifying 25 minutes she lost her child at the beach

Post by bluj1515 on Fri Aug 14, 2009 3:08 am

I was particularly struck by the fact that she immediately knew she'd be ripped and blamed. Especially as an older mother and a journalist, she knew implicitly what the public and the comments section would think nothing of saying about her. Is this what the vitriol against the McCanns has wrought? An acceptance of "blame the victim"?
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