Body battle for man lost at sea

A desperate mother has launched a public appeal in a bid to bring the body of her son - drowned in the summer surf off Great Yarmouth - back to Norfolk.

A desperate mother has launched a public appeal in a bid to bring the body of her son - drowned in the summer surf off Great Yarmouth - back to Norfolk.

Carole Reid has been battling for four weeks to bring the body of her son Daniel home after he was retrieved by a Dutch coastguard vessel.

Last night, Dirk van Beelen, chief engineer aboard the Viserand which plucked him from the sea, said he shared Mrs Reid's frustration and could not rest until the family were able to bury him.

But the process of repatriation is being held up by bills and bureaucracy and Mrs Reid fears her son will be put in a pauper's grave or cremated alone in Holland and his ashes flown home for a memorial service, if she cannot meet the mounting bills.


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Meanwhile the cost of storing the body in a Dutch hospital mortuary indefinitely is rising by 500 euros a week.

In words broken by emotion, Mrs Reid said she had been unable to grieve properly for her son and was disheartened by the lack of intervention from the Government agencies or MPs to help her speed up the repatriation process.

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The on-going ordeal, on top of losing her son almost two months ago, was an “absolute nightmare” she said, adding: “We have not had a chance to grieve.

“There is no ideal situation but if I had a choice I would rather he came home in a coffin and was cremated here. We have not had any help whatsoever and the costs are still mounting. People I have spoken to are all disgusted that there is no funding. If we do not pay the bills he will be put in a pauper's grave in Holland.”

The 25-year-old from Cobholm, had been enjoying a day at the beach when he went missing presumed drowned on August 6. Despite the efforts of his friend Barry Curtis and Acle mother of two Karen Khangura who plunged into the waves to save him, he disappeared off busy North Beach - his cries for help apparently misinterpreted by people on the sands as fooling around.

His identity was confirmed by DNA testing.

Although tormented by the delays Mrs Reid said she was heartened by well-wishers who had raised over �1000 with events like table-top sales and head shaves following the launch of an emergency appeal to raise money for the rescue services that helped on the day, and to fly his body to the family home in Hunstanton to be laid to rest.

Steve Turner of the coroners office, based at James Paget University Hospital, said that whilst the body remained in Holland the local coroner did not have any jurisdiction.

“It is doubly tragic,” he said. “They have been hit by the death - and the trauma of not being able to bring him back. For most people the funeral is the focal point of their grief. To have found his body and then not be able to proceed with seemingly no agencies that can help must be incredibly difficult.”

“His body has turned up in Holland which is outside our jurisdiction and until such time as it arrives back in this country that is how it remains.”

He said the family had the option to fly the body home, pay a funeral director to drive it back or collect it themselves in an appropriate vehicle. Portuguese and Latvian people were regularly repatriated from Yarmouth, he said, at a cost of around �2500. Mr van Beelen said everyone on the Dutch side had been touched by Mrs Reid's plight and were keen to find a way to help, possibly with their own fundraising effort. He said: “My grandfather was lost at sea and never found so I know what impact such an event has on the next of kin. My main concern and hope after finding the body was that he could be identified so his relatives would be able to bury him. As long as I don't know for sure I can't put it to rest.”

A website set up to raise awareness of sea-safety and the appeal is tracking events and donations. Daniel was born in Peterborough and moved to Hunstanton with his family 10 years ago. The eldest of 10 children he was described by his mother as having “a heart of gold.” He lived in Norwich for two years before moving to Cobholm last summer.

Visit the appeal website at www.safety-on-sea.co.uk

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