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A man risked his life to swim out to his sunken van to save his cigarettes over the weekend.
Photographs caught the bizarre and fairly dangerous moment a topless man dived into the sea off Redcar beach on Sunday (19 July) to retrieve his tabs, which were trapped inside his white van after it had become submerged in water.
At first, it was thought the vehicle might be saved from the clutches of the deep, with a tractor attempting to pull it back to land, but rescue attempts were eventually aborted as the water rose too high.
According to witnesses, the man swam out to the van in order to get a photo on the roof but ended up returning with four packets of fags.
Keighly Finnegan was on the beach and watched the whole thing unfold.
Speaking to Evening Gazette, she said: "The van came on the beach and it had the trailer and speedboat on the back and he kind of did a big U-turn down the other end and went back.
"And then as soon as the engine cut off all of a sudden you could see there was something going on because he was just gesturing and troubled faces and all that kind of stuff.
"He ran back here and then a woman went off the beach and then they came back and there was a lot to do."
Keighly said people tried to help push the van back in but it was too late, adding: "There was about four people trying to push it but it just wouldn't move anywhere."
Jamie Lawrence, from Stockton, was enjoying a day at the beach with his wife and two young daughters when it all kicked off.
He told the publication: "We walked from the shops and saw all the crowds and thought it was just a busy day - but then we saw this van stuck in the sea!
"The kids said, 'Daddy, what's that?' It's a bit of a spectacle."
Jamie said the van ended up about 100ft from shore and was almost fully submerged in water.
He added: "It's unusual for a Sunday!"
The man believed to be the owner of the vehicle declined to comment on the incident. It's understood the van will be recovered once the tide goes out.
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