‘Please help stop this sea tragedy’

Anne-Marie Sagar on the lower walk at Blackpool promenade, where her son David died. BELOW: Anne-Marie and David together.
Anne-Marie Sagar on the lower walk at Blackpool promenade, where her son David died. BELOW: Anne-Marie and David together.
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THERE is not a single day which goes by when heartbroken mum Anne-Marie Sagar does not wonder if her son’s life could have been saved.

Not by the emergency services who desperately tried in vain to save the popular teenager who loved life, his family and his friends.

David Sagar with his mother Anne-Marie Sagar.

David Sagar with his mother Anne-Marie Sagar.

But could this tragedy have been prevented if warnings on Blackpool’s seafront had been better?

Ms Sagar is the latest parent to have lost a child in the sea off Blackpool.

The fast currents and rough seas make for a deadly combination for those who get too near once the tide comes in.

David, 17, of Lewtas Street, Blackpool, died on March 30 when he fell backwards off the seawall and was swept into the sea.

David Sagar

David Sagar

A lifeboat crew rescued him from the sea, but despite their efforts to resuscitate him he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Blackpool Lifeboat Station.

Anne-Marie, 34, said: “If there had been measures in place before I wouldn’t have lost my David and I wouldn’t be suffering.

“I don’t want anybody to suffer like I have.

“I feel quite bitter there has to be so much heartbreak before we can get something done.

“In a way I wish somebody had done this before then I wouldn’t have to go through something like this.” At the moment, the sea wall is the last line of defence protecting residents and holidaymakers from going into the sea at Lower Walk.

There are chains and signs warning of the dangers of entering the sea via ramps opposite Gynn Square, however, Mrs Sagar and campaigners say there are not enough.

Twenty two people have lost their lives in the sea off Blackpool over the last 27 years, while thirteen of those deaths have been at Gynn Square.

They include three police officers who were swept to their deaths in January 1983.

PCs Colin Morrison, Gordon Connolly and Angela Bradley died when they tried to save a holidaymaker in the sea.

Two teenagers also died in 2005 at the spot when they entered the water trying to rescue a dog, and a holidaymaker died in March last year when he went swimming at the same spot.

And last weekend, the Coastguard was called in to action 26 times on Saturday (inset left) to rescue people clinging on to North Pier and stranded in inflatable dinghies.

Those who knew David best are now urging more warnings to be placed next to the spot where the youngster lost his life.

Ms Sagar is in the process of raising money for a warning plaque to be placed at the scene where her son died. The trainee teacher would also like to get enough funds to place barriers on Lower Walk and improve its signage.

Ms Sagar, along with her daughter Alicia, 15, has already organised a walk from South Pier to a spot opposite Gynn Square where friends and family paid their respects to David by laying flowers. She said: “This offered me something, but I don’t think there will ever be closure.

“If this means we are going to prevent someone else from dying it means David is not going to have died in vain.

“Losing your child at any age is hard, but when they’ve been in your life for 17 years and you have so many memories of them like jokes and films, then you can’t go through a day without it hitting you in the face like a bullet.”

Coun Gary Coleman, Cabinet Member with responsibility for beach patrol, said: “It’s always heartbreaking to hear of someone losing their life on our coastline. Our thoughts are with all the families that have suffered such a sad loss.

“Along with all our residents, there are millions of people that visit Blackpool every year and enjoy the seafront without any problems. However, people are still needlessly losing their lives and we need to see if there’s anything that could have been done to prevent these untimely deaths.

“The efforts David’s friends and family are making to highlight the dangers of the sea should be applauded. We welcome the suggestions from Ms. Sagar and are happy to discuss them with her further.

“We are already looking into the possibility of placing more adverts around the bus and tram shelters as an extra way of highlighting sea safety advice.

“Measures are in place to prevent people using Lower Walk at high tide or particularly bad weather and the section between Cocker Square and Anchorsholme is closed using safety chains at these times. We do our utmost to keep the seafront as safe as possible but unfortunately sometimes these incidents do still happen.”