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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Man, 41, swept out to sea in gale-force winds

A SEARCH and rescue operation to locate a Barrow man swept out to sea in gale-force winds was due to resume this morning.

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JACKIE DANIEL

Police confirmed yesterday that the 41-year-old, who was washed out to sea during the early hours of yesterday at Blackpool, was from Barrow and had moved to the Blackpool area a month ago.

The man had not been identified as the Evening Mail went to print.

Coastguards said yesterday that it was now considered “highly unlikely” that he will have survived.

The major search operation was launched at 12.13am yesterday after reports that a man had fallen into the sea by the South Pier, on Blackpool promenade.

It is thought the man fell into the water while walking his dog with two friends near the Sandcastle, just after midnight.

Chris Bond, coastguard watch assistant at Liverpool Coastguard, said: “The man lost his footing and slipped into the sea.

“It looks like they have been out walking and one man has slipped and gone into the water. Another man has gone in to help but has managed to get himself out and was checked over at the scene by paramedics.”

Mr Bond said the man’s friend who managed to scramble back to safety had then raised the alarm.

Stuart Atkinson, watch manager at Crosby Coastguard station, added: “We do believe a life ring was thrown to him and a football.

“We have located the football but not the life ring.”

Mr Atkinson said the search operation was hampered last night due to very strong, westerly gale-force winds that reached between gale-force seven and eight.

Two RNLI lifeboat crews from Blackpool and Lytham were joined by the Coastguard, the police, and fire service in the search for the man.

The RAF Valley helicopter from Anglesey was also scrambled but the search was suspended just after 4am.

A shoreline search for the man’s body continued during the day yesterday.

Mr Atkinson added the conditions, water temperature and length of time in the water made it “highly unlikely” the man could have survived. From the information we received, we must unfortunately presume the man went into the water and there is nothing to suggest at this stage that he made it to shore,” he said.

“Therefore, the sea search has now been terminated and we are now in the process of searching the shoreline for a body.”

A search of the coast and beaches was focusing on an area around the South Pier and the Blackpool sea wall.

The incident comes just before the 30th anniversary of the drowning of three Blackpool police officers who died trying to save a Scottish holidaymaker who had gone into the sea near Gynn Square to rescue his dog.

PCs Angela Bradley, Gordon Connolly, Colin Morrison drowned trying to rescue Alistair Anthony on January 5, 1983.

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