Fierce seas swept angler to his death

A SEA angler has told of the harrowing moments in which his friend was swept out to sea and drowned in a freak accident on a Suffolk beach.Paul Blyth watched helplessly as Lowestoft man Martyn Franklin, 41, shouted for help as he battled against fierce waves whipped up by a storm.

A SEA angler has told of the harrowing moments in which his friend was swept out to sea and drowned in a freak accident on a Suffolk beach.

Paul Blyth watched helplessly as Lowestoft man Martyn Franklin, 41, shouted for help as he battled against fierce waves whipped up by a storm.

Mr Blyth's distressing account of events was read out yesterday at an inquest into father-of-two Mr Franklin's death on November 1.

He told how Mr Franklin, a former lifeboat volunteer, was attempting to cross a gully on the beach at Kessingland when he was washed 15ft out to sea by a stream of fast-running water.


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“The water took Martyn's feet away and knocked him over. It was just like a chute and carried him into the sea,” said Mr Blyth in his statement read out at Lowestoft County Court.

“The next big wave completely engulfed him and the next time I saw him he was a further 15ft out to sea. As he came up, I heard him shout 'Paul, help me, help me'.

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“I was throwing my fishing gear down and running to the shoreline and shouted at him to get rid of his fishing box, which was over his shoulder. He was only in sight for a few seconds and then disappeared into the water. I saw his tackle box come back up to the surface, but I did not see Martyn again. It happened in a couple of seconds; the speed was unbelievable.”

The hearing was told how the pals met up at 6.35am at unemployed Mr Franklin's home in Milton Road East, Lowestoft, before setting out for a day's sea fishing at nearby Benacre sluice.

They parked at Kessingland and set out on a walk along the beach to their final destination. By then 15ft waves swelled by a combination of high tides and strong winds were causing havoc and a large pool of water had been created on the beach.

Mr Blyth, who was wearing Wellington boots, decided to wade through the standing water towards Benacre, but Mr Franklin's footwear was less protective so he decided to walk over the gully (a channel cut by running water).

At that point a wave crashed onto the beach and the water ran back towards the sea, through the gully where Mr Franklin was standing.

A major rescue operation was launched, but Mr Franklin's body was not found until November 9 by a fishing trawler, off the Dunwich coast in Suffolk.

Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean reassured Mr Blyth there was nothing he could have done to save his friend. He said a post-mortem examination confirmed Mr Franklin had drowned and he recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He added: “This clearly was a tragic accident where, literally, one or two seconds either side would have altered the outcome.

“This was a freak outcome in every respect. Mr Franklin couldn't have expected the water to appear as it did as he walked across the gully. Given the rush of water, there was very little anybody could have done for Mr Franklin at that particular time.”

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