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27 July 2018, 12:38 | Updated: 27 July 2018, 12:47
The search for a 13-year-old boy who was last seen in the sea near Clacton Pier is continuing, as it emerged that pier workers helped rescue a second boy from the water.
Essex Police were called amid concerns for the welfare of the two teenagers in the water on Thursday and officers were on the scene just after 6.35pm.
Two pier workers helped keep one of the boys above water until an RNLI lifeboat crew could reach him, but the second teenager is still unaccounted for.
Searches continued until darkness on Thursday and were resumed by the Coastguard at 4.45am on Friday, with police seen walking along the shoreline and a helicopter overhead.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the boys in the water and pier worker Stuart Duff issued an emergency call, with two other staff members rushing to help with a lifebelt.
Przemek Jakiela, 40, who works in the pier's amusement arcade, said he threw a lifebelt to one youngster but was unable to reach him due to the wind and currents.
He threw the belt a number of times before the teenager was able to grab hold of it and Mr Jakiela kept a firm grip on the rope - along with pier bar worker Amy Bayliss - until an RNLI crew managed to pull the boy from the water and take him ashore.
He tried to rescue the other boy but was unable to.
"As I got there I just saw his head go under and he disappeared and did not come back up again," said Mr Jakiela. "There was just nothing we could do for him."
He said the teenager he helped to save was still being dragged under by the currents when he had hold of the lifebelt.
After the rescue, Mr Jakielka continued his shift on the pier before leaving at 9pm.
"I was just doing my job and what we have been trained to do if anything like this happens," he said.
"Other members of staff, including Amy, also came along to assist and luckily the lifeboat was able to get to the lad, pull him into their boat and bring him ashore."
Nigel Brown, Clacton Pier's communications manager, said: "The lifebelts are relatively heavy and it was difficult conditions but Przemek persisted with throwing the belt - around 10 to 12 times - until he managed to get it to the lad.
"We cannot say what might have happened had he not got the belt to him but there would definitely have been less time to the lifeboat to get to him.
"He was pretty exhausted already, struggling to stay above the water and waving his arms.
"Przemek is a very reluctant hero, but a hero nonetheless, and he helped to save the youngster's life. Amy also played a significant role helping to hang on to the rope."
Managing director Billy Ball said the pier had recently put in new lifebelts which are each in an enclosed plastic case to stop them from being vandalised.
A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said there will be a focus on a low-tide search for the missing boy on Friday afternoon.