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Vain battle to save man caught in rough seas off Torquay

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 31, 2013

  • Image shows the sea conditions from last night's shout Credit RNLI-Torbay

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A TORQUAY man has died in rough seas off Princess Pier. The man, thought to be aged in his 40s, was heard shouting for help in the water at 7.59pm on Tuesday night near the Pier Point bar.

A member of the public raised the alarm and the RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew and the Torquay coastguard team battled onshore 60 knot winds and rough seas to reach the man.

They tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Lifeboat Coxswain Mark Criddle (pictured) manoeuvred the 38-ton vessel close in to the promenade sea wall and battled to keep it out of the breaking waves. It is thought the man may have been in the water for at least 20 minutes.

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Police say there are no suspicious circumstances and next of kin have now been informed.

It was the second fatal call out in 24-hours for the Torbay lifeboat.

Colin Bower, Torbay RNLI lifeboat spokesman said: "It has been a horrendous 24 hours.

"It just goes to show the dangers of the sea in such stormy conditions.

"The sea tossed the lifeboat around like a cork."

The all-weather lifeboat Alec and Christina Dykes was launched at 8.07pm on Tuesday to the seaward side of Princess Pier and just below the promenade in front of Princess Theatre. Ryan Bradfield, volunteer crew member wearing a dry suit and attached to the lifeboat with a lanyard, jumped into the waves. He managed to reach the casualty and both were brought on to the lifeboat by the crew.

Crewmembers, GP Dr Alex Rowe and Michelle Fox, carried out advanced resuscitation on the man before handing him over to paramedics waiting at Haldon Pier.

Dr Rowe said: "He was very cold and may have suffered a cardiac arrest due to the cold. We carried out full resuscitation but sadly he didn't make it. It always gets to you a bit, but we know we have done as much as we possibly could and we gave him every fighting chance."

A police spokesman said: "We believe that the man was on his own at the time but we are still trying to establish the circumstances."

Stuart Elliman, RNLI volunteer lifeboat operations manager at Torbay, praised the efforts of the lifeboat crew. He said: "The professionalism was absolutely first class."

A spokesman for Torbay and South Devon Coroner said an inquest was likely to open next week.

The two tragedies were raised by Torbay MP in Parliament in the wake of the Brixham coastguard station closure.

Mr Sanders asked if it meant fishermen would be risking their lives even more.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "This is a good moment to pay tribute to our coastguard and the very difficult and dangerous work that they do. As he knows the government examination of the Coastguard hasn't been about reducing the number of boats or active stations, it is about the co-ordination centres and where they are best located."

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