Mother feared toddler son would die after sinking into Gravesend mud

PUBLISHED: 12:02 06 August 2013 | UPDATED: 12:14 06 August 2013

Nikki Sullivan and her toddler son Alec who she thought would die after sinking into mud along Gravesend promenade

Nikki Sullivan and her toddler son Alec who she thought would die after sinking into mud along Gravesend promenade


A mother feared she would lose her toddler son when the pair got sucked into mud just off Gordon Promenade in Gravesend.

Nikki Sullivan, 39, from Swanley, was sitting on the pebbles with two-year-old Alec on July 27 when she turned around ‘for a second’ to see where his ball had gone.

Turning back, she saw Alec sinking a few metres away. As she went towards him, Nikki also began to sink while also desperately trying to drag her son from the thick mud.

“I thought I was going to lose him,” she said. “There was nobody around. It all happened so quickly, I was panicking. I want to warn others that this can happen.”

The pair often visit the area and had eaten lunch before deciding to sit on the pebbles not far from the sailing club.

She added: “We were sitting throwing stones. It all happened in a matter of seconds. People were sunbathing in the distance up on the hill so nobody could help. It’s not a safe area.”

Ms Sullivan says she didn’t see any signs warning her of the danger but Port of London Authority spokesman Martin Garside says there is signage along the promenade informing people of ‘deep, slippery mud’.

The area is not far from where 28-year-old Nathan Lane was swept away while trying to save a young girl from drowning on July 14.

It is believed he tried to save the girl, who got into difficulty while playing in the river. She was saved but Mr Lane never resurfaced. His body was discovered on July 17.

Mr Garside said the Thames is an ‘often cruel and unforgiving, fast-flowing river’.

He added: This incident follows the tragic loss of Nathan Lane in the same area by the Gordon Promenade. The tidal Thames throughout the Gravesend area is not a place for paddling, bathing or swimming.

“Signs are not a complete answer – especially since the Thames extends along many miles – with many points of possible points of entry into the water.

“We are always very willing to work with the local councils and other safety agencies to improve signage. However the key is to educate and inform. We will be working with local schools and attending community events to highlight the hazards of the Thames foreshore. We will also continue to work with the other key safety agencies to publicise the dangers.”

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