'Intensive' search for Exmouth kayaker ends in tragedy
A team of 10 coastguards spent an hour-and-a-half combing the beach at Budleigh Salterton last night in a desperate and “intensive” search for a young kayaker who tragically lost his life after capsizing.
Police have confirmed that a 20-year-old Exmouth man died after trying to swim to shore as dusk fell.
A two hour search and rescue operation was launched at around 7.15pm in near complete darkness.
It is understood the young man had been kayaking with a friend and when his boat overturned he offered to swim ashore as his friend towed his kayak.
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He was last seen in the shore surf before disappearing.
An Exmouth RNLI team, who were nearby aboard the all-weather lifeboat on a training exercise, was immediately dispatched to the scene.
The team, who were there within minutes, were joined by the in-shore lifeboat and both boats launched a parallel search of the coast close-in to the beach in one metre swell.
Sidmouth Lifeboat also joined in the operation to search the water from the east.
Paul Howell, station officer for Exmouth Coastguard, described how four teams of coastguard officers were deployed to complete a thorough shoreline search, east to west and west to east, continuously along the beach.
“After approximately an hour-and-a-half of intensive searching by all search and rescue units, the casualty was eventually located in the rough rolling surf directly off the seafront and brought ashore to the beach,” he continued.
The coastguard helicopter from Portland had also been tasked to assist with the rescue and landed on the beach.
The helicopter winchman, who was also a paramedic, assisted Exmouth coastguards with extended CPR and medical intervention.
The young man was taken to Dorchester Hospital in the helicopter where it is understood he was pronounced dead on arrival.
It is understood the kayaker was wearing a wetsuit but did not have a lifejacket on.
Next of kin have been informed.
“Exmouth Coastguard Rescue Team is fortunate enough to have an extensive medical team including paramedics and nurses who volunteer for us and were on scene within seconds,” continued Mr Howell.
“The casualty was given the very best care and assistance before being transferred to hospital.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of the casualty at this very distressing time.”
Sidmouth lifeboat member, Mark Roden, added: “We were tasked at just before 9pm to search the water from the east, from Black Head which is about half way between Sidmouth and Otter Ledge, in case the casualty had drifted that far.
“As well as search lights the boat is fitted with night sights which pick up heat in order to detect someone who may be in the water.
“We had only been on the water around 10 minutes when the casualty was located.”