Man dead and boy hurt in surfing tragedy

AN ESSEX man has died and a 14-year-old boy is being treated in hospital after they were involved in a surfing accident while on holiday.

Roddy Ashworth

A FATHER has died and his 14-year-old son is being treated in hospital after they were involved in a surfing accident while on holiday.

The pair, from Chelmsford in Essex, were pulled from 6ft waves which were crashing on to a beach in Newquay, Cornwall, last night.

Witnesses said the 51-year-old man and the boy had been “body boarding” - a form of surfing that uses a foam board smaller than a normal surf board - before getting into difficulties.


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They were dragged from the sea by a group of kite-surfers who spotted them in distress.

A woman called emergency services at around 7pm to report that people were scrambling into the water at Fistral Beach in a bid to save the pair.

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When they had been taken clear of the surf the child was semi-conscious and the man was given CPR.

Both were on holiday with their family in Newquay and were staying in an apartment at the resort, police said.

Falmouth Coastguard rescue team was sent to the scene, a helicopter was scrambled and the Newquay lifeboat launched.

However the man, who had not been wearing a wetsuit, was pronounced dead shortly after being airlifted to hospital.

The condition of the boy, who was also taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia and shock, was said to be improving today.

Eye-witness Neil Rees, who was taking photographs from the beach, said that he had not seen the pair in the water until the rescue drama began.

The holidaymaker, who is from Dartford in Kent said: “I was taking photographs of two kite surfers who were in the water.

“Suddenly one of them came on shore, dropped his kite and rushed back into the water.

“He was dragging something out and then the other kite surfer did the same, dragging something else. At first I didn't realise they were bodies.”

Mr Rees, 52, who regularly visits the resort with his two dogs, added: “I hadn't seen anybody body boarding out there, which is strange - I would have thought I would have done.

“But it is a long beach - probably over half-a-mile - and it is possible they were dragged along in the water. It was quite rough and choppy.

“After they were pulled from the water the paramedics were giving them CPR for a good 20 minutes.”

A spokesman for Falmouth Coastguard told the EADT: “We received a call just after 7pm yesterday reporting two people in difficulty off the beach at Newquay.

“We sent out the coastguard team and the local inshore lifeboat as well as a rescue helicopter.

“When they arrived the older man was under treatment. They were flown to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske.”

The spokesman said that last night's conditions - in which waves were breaking at around six feet - were not unusual and would not generally be regarded as dangerous for regular surf-boarding.

“The conditions are relative to the individual. They would not necessarily be seen as difficult to an experienced surfer.”

He added that Fistral Beach was popular with water-sports enthusiasts and surf-boarders in particular.

“All of the north-west beaches in Cornwall are popular with surfers, and especially round Newquay,” he said.

He said that every year there were a number of fatalities off the coast.

“Unfortunately we do get more than our fair share, partly due to the large surfing community there is here anyway, but more due to the holiday trade,” he added.

Body-boarding, he said, is when people lay down on their fronts on the board and surf into the beach.

Also known as boogie-boarding, it is especially popular with inexperienced surfers, the spokesman said.

A statement from Devon and Cornwall Constabulary said: “At 7.18 pm on Sunday, police were requested by the coastguard to attend Fistral Beach, Newquay, to a report of a male being dragged from the sea.

“Ambulance and Coastguard personnel were already at the scene.

“Paramedics were treating a 51 year old man and a14 year old boy, believed to be father and son, who had got into difficulties whilst swimming in the sea.

“Both were conveyed to Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske,Truro by Royal Navy helicopter from RNAS Culdrose.

“The man was subsequently pronounced dead at hospital.

“The boy was detained in hospital, suffering from shock and hypothermia, but is recovering well.

“The family are on holiday from Essex and were staying at an apartment in Newquay.”

* This story will be updated throughout the day as more information becomes available.

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