Essex kayaker, 21, lost ‘impossible’ fight against tide off Jaywick coast
PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 October 2016 | UPDATED: 06:14 13 October 2016
A kayaker who drowned off the coast of Jaywick faced an “impossible” battle against the tide in rough seas, an inquest has heard.
Christopher Sturman, 21, had high levels of cannabis and a significant amount of alcohol in his blood when he took a canoe suitable for rivers and lakes out to sea while with friends on July 24.
He got into difficulty not far from the beach a short while later shouting to friends “I can’t do this”, an inquest into his death heard yesterday.
According to a fisherman who witnessed the incident Mr Sturman – known to family and friends as Chris – was thrown from the boat by the tide and struggled to get back in again.
The fisherman’s evidence was brought before the inquest by Detective Inspector Kevin Hughes of Clacton CID, who led the investigation into Mr Sturman’s death.
He told DI Hughes how the 21-year-old – who was not wearing a life jacket – was then embroiled in an “impossible” fight with the tide before disappearing underwater.
Cannabis intoxication was given as the second medical cause of death after drowning by the pathologist who conducted Mr Sturman’s post mortem examination.
DI Hughes told the inquest that by combining cannabis with anti-depressant Mirtazapine Mr Sturman may have magnified the effects of the recreational drug and impaired his judgement.
He also said the kayak Mr Sturman used was unsuitable for tidal water, and the nature of its design made it “near impossible” to jump back into.
His mother Lynn Purton is calling for more coastal protection at the beach in the wake of her son’s death.
Jaywick beach is currently private and has no lifeguards patrolling it.
She said: “One fatality on this beach is one too many. At the moment I am trying to raise awareness and get something done because there needs to be a lifeguard or protection of some sort on this beach.
“I know it costs money as everything does but someone has died on this beach and that happens to be my son.
“It worries me that when the tide is rough it could be someone else - you often see kids playing down there in the sea and because it’s a private beach there’s nobody there to protect them.
She added: “But now Chris has gone it’s made me think if there’s something I can do as his mum is to make sure that if people do get themselves in that situation someone could be there on the scene immediately to help them.”
Senior Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray concluded Mr Sturman died as a result of an accident on the balance of probabilities while expressing sympathy to his family and friends.
At Chris’ memorial service, his aunt Eileen Briscoe read out the following:
“Chris, you were an amazing cheeky child, with blond hair, blue eyes that butter wouldn’t melt.
“Your nanny Hazel would have been proud of you, you were a ball of energy that loved life and always argued with your siblings about who was going to brush my hair.
“Happy memories. I lost contact with you kids for years but always thought of you, when I met you again you had all grown up, you over-powered me in height but still had respect for me, you lived life to the full, you loved your family and loved your dogs and you were always there to help others out.
“You were always the family joker and loved adventure.
“Hope you are enjoying your adventure wherever you are, we are all going to miss you terribly.
“Love you, nephew.”