THE family of a man washed out to sea have told of their heartache as they wait for a call confirming his body has been found.
Paul Morris, 41, was dragged into the sea in the early hours of New Year’s Day, and police have now confirmed the hunt for his body has been stood down.
His devastated family has paid tribute to a “hard working” man who “loves his family dearly”.
The Coastguard spent two days searching for Mr Morris’ body after he was washed into the sea close to South Pier while out walking a dog with two friends just after midnight.
But despite several daytime shoreline searches by Lytham and Fleetwood Coastguard, as well as beach patrol and RNLI lifeboats, a body has still not been found.
His family have now said they face a difficult wait for the devastating news which will give them “closure”.
In a statement his mother, sister and two brothers said: “Paul is a hardworking man who enjoys spending time with friends and loves his family dearly.
“He’s only recently moved back to Blackpool and we’re obviously shocked by what has happened and it’s a difficult time for us all, particularly as Paul can’t swim and we fear the worst.
“We’re now just waiting for that fateful call to say that he’s been found so we can have some closure. We’d like to thank all the emergency services for their efforts in trying to find and rescue Paul.”
The tragedy unfolded after Mr Morris and a man and a woman – who he was believed to live with in South Shore – were walking along the Promenade steps leading to the sea when Mr Morris and the man were dragged into the water by a wave.
His friend was able to climb to safety, but Mr Morris, who recently moved to the area from Barrow-in-Furness, was lost.
A major search and rescue operation carried out by the emergency services, including lifeboat crews from Blackpool and Lytham, was aided by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, who was on board a Sea King Helicopter scrambled by RAF Valley in Anglesey to assist the search.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed the Royal, known as Flight Lieutenant Wales, had taken part in the search efforts.
He is a qualified operational captain, allowing him overall control of a helicopter as pilot.
The search was stood down because of the harsh weather conditions after three hours, but resumed on Tuesday morning.
The Lytham and Fleetwood coastguard and beach patrol carried out shore-line searches for the remainder of Tuesday and Wednesday morning, though the Coastguard said the chances of him being found alive were nil.
A spokesman for HM Coastguard said a smaller team would carry on scouring the water from low water at around 9am today.
But police today confirmed they have no further large-scale searches planned.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “Despite shoreline searches his body has not yet been recovered from the water.
“There are no further searches planned.”