Anguish over missing swimmer
LIFEBOATMEN this week spoke of their despair at not finding a missing swimmer despite combing the coast for hours.Hopes of finding Daniel Reid alive kept Caister and Gorleston lifeboats going until they were stood down by the coastguard last Thursday.
LIFEBOATMEN this week spoke of their despair at not finding a missing swimmer despite combing the coast for hours.
Hopes of finding Daniel Reid alive kept Caister and Gorleston lifeboats going until they were stood down by the coastguard last Thursday.
The 25-year-old, from the Yarmouth area, disappeared while swimming off Great Yarmouth's North Beach while families frolicked in the sun and surf just 10-15ft away
The formal search was called off on Saturday morning. At the height of the drama the air ambulance helicopter joined the search combing the same spot where another young man Motar Abudeeb, 19, from Norwich lost his life a year ago.
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Paul Garrod, chairman of Caister lifeboat, said he was 99pc certain Mr Reid had been lost, with best coastguard survival times estimated at two hours.
He said: “The mood was very gloomy and depressed, we just wanted to keep on searching. Our job is to save lives so when one gets away it is very disheartening. There is nothing worse than leaving without a body because it is something for the family. At the moment it is all up in the air and undecided.”
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Karen Khangura relived her vain efforts to save him as other families on the packed beach looked on and implored beach goers to take it seriously if they see someone apparently struggling in the water.
“If people think someone is mucking about it does not matter. It is better to help someone and feel a bit stupid afterwards than not to help,” said Mrs Khangura, who left her two children on the beach and swam to the rescue herself.
Watch manager Peter Wheeler reinforced her message: “Give us a call straightaway if it looks like someone is in trouble. We can only respond as quickly as when we get the call. In this case, once the call came, the lifeboat was on the scene in three minutes.”
He also warned beach goers to beware of shelving beaches and currents and to respect the sea as a potentially dangerous place.
Mr Wheeler highlighted the wisdom of sticking to beaches controlled by lifeguards - Thursday's tragedy occurred off Yarmouth's unguarded North Beach.
Police meanwhile commended the brave actions of Mrs Khangura but cautioned: “We would always encourage members of the public who see anyone in distress in the water to contact the appropriate emergency services and not to put their own life in danger.”
Mrs Khangura, 35, of Acle, was on the beach with her two boys, Jake, five, and Lex, two, when she noticed two bathers, one of whom later struggled ashore, fighting to keep their heads above water and shouting help. They were close to the beach, but other people assumed they were larking about.
Recalling the drama which began shortly before 2pm, she said: “I only took the children to the beach to lighten the mood because it is my dad's funeral today.
“As I went for a paddle, I noticed two men with dark hair about 10ft to 15ft out, both facing the seafront. Their heads kept bobbing under the water and when they came up they were shouting 'help'. They were not frantic or splashing about and I wondered if they were mucking about or not.
“When I asked, 'Is someone going to help?', someone else on the beach said they were just messing about and had been doing it for some time. One of the men started floating on his back but the other one was still bobbing up and down and shouting help.”
Despite the reassurances of other beach goers, Mrs Khangura said she began to feel uneasy and shouted for someone to watch her children and plunged into the water.
However, by the time she had swum out with a buoyancy aid to the spot where she had last seen him, she could find no trace of a body.
Returning to shore, she struggled over a steep shelf - taking bathers from knee-deep water to out of their depth - and believes this is what caught out the two men, neither of whom could apparently swim.
Back on the beach, she discovered another woman had finally dialled 999, but despite a massive search, involving police, the man was not located. His friend, who was in the water with him, was taken to James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, in a distressed state.