A DISABLED teenager and another boy suffered severe injuries after a 20ft fall from a pier last night.

The pair - who were trying to go fishing in a prohibited area - were winched to safety by an air/sea rescue helicopter after plunging onto a granite rock slipway into the sea.

Rescuers said the able-bodied boy was carrying his friend - believed to have cerebral palsy - on his back as he climbed over a spiked fence to get to the edge of the pier.

Another boy is believed to have raised the alarm at about 6.20pm, after his friends fell from the North Tyne Pier, at Tynemouth.

Will Hogg, senior captain with Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade, told The Northern Echo: "They fell from a large, heavy fence which has got spikes all over it to stop people doing exactly what they were doing."

The awkward location of the ramp and the seriousness of their injuries meant the boys had to be winched on spinal boards onto the helicopter, from RAF Boulmer, in Northumberland.

Only one was conscious, and both suffered head and suspected spinal injuries. The rescue took an hour and a half.

Mr Hogg said: "We believe one fell on top of the other. One was suffering, we believe, from cerebral palsy, and obviously his friend was carrying him over the fence onto the pier for fishing.

"He got to the top of the fence and he fell, and his friend on his back fell.

"It would be about 18 to 20ft that they fell onto a ramp that runs down beside the pier. They weren't in the best of shape."

Five volunteers from the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade attended the accident, along with six paramedics and police.

The Tynemouth inshore lifeboat was on standby but could not be launched because the tide was out.

The helicopter flew to the Royal Victoria Infirmary landing site, in Newcastle, from where the boys were transferred to the General Hospital.