Valiant attempt to save drowning man

North Shore close to Queen's Promenade where a man died after going in the sea
North Shore close to Queen's Promenade where a man died after going in the sea
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Friends have today paid tribute to a Blackpool man who died in a tragic sea accident.

Ashley West, 26, was pulled from choppy seas close to the boating pool at North Shore around 8pm on Saturday.

Keith Horrocks

Keith Horrocks

Despite desperate attempts by rescue crews and paramedics to resuscitate him, he died in Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

It is believed the 26-year-old had been on a night out with friends before he went into the water.

The Gazette understands one man tried to pull Mr West to safety, but was unable to hold onto him.

Today tributes were paid on social media to Mr West, who is originally believed to come from the Staffordshire area.

Jean Iddeson said: “So sad people underestimate the sea R.I.P. thoughts are with his friends & family xxx”

Sally Palmer added: “What a waste of such a young life, absolutely tragic.”

Claire Pohl added: “How awful, so young, my heart goes out to his family and friends x”

Lucy Rebecca Heard said: “Totally heartbroken x”

And Blackpool Coun Christian Cox added: “A very sad story. So young as well. RIP”

Rescue crews were called to the incident around 8pm on Saturday.

Two inshore RNLI lifeboats were sent to the scene within 15 minutes of the Coastguard alert, with a further vessel sent at 8.20pm.

Lifeboat operations manager Keith Horrocks said crews had to contend with Force 5 winds – up to 25mph – making the rescue attempt extremely difficult.

He added: “Liverpool Coastguard advised a person was in the water at North Shore boating pool opposite the go-kart track.

“All the volunteers got down here as soon as possible.

“We got an inshore boat and tasked another because of the weather conditions.

“We launched a third as back-up.

“As the crews arrived the police were on scene and the Coastguard directed crews to the man.

“One crew did excellent work in those conditions as the man was very near the sea wall.

“The reflective water from the sea wall causes it to be very disturbed. It can be like working in a washing machine.

“It was hard to control the boat in those conditions, but as soon as we picked him up we started resuscitation.

“Because of the high winds the best place to land was back at Blackpool RNLI station. He was transferred to a waiting ambulance and taken to hospital.

“The conditions were very difficult. It was just within our limitations. The helmsman did well to pick the casualty up.”

Last week official RNLI figures showed 31 people lost their lives around the coasts of north England in 2014.

In June a Blackpool fisherman told of his desperate attempts to save the life of a man who plunged 40ft into the sea from North Pier.

And earlier this month a woman was rescued from near North Shore – being pulled from the sea with water up to her shoulders.

Mr Horrocks said people must recognise the dangers of entering the sea.

He added: “We have the Respect The Water campaign running at the moment. More than 170 people drown around the UK each year. The RNLI is trying to get it down. It is all about knowing the risks. The Gazette does a good job raising awareness but it is important people see the sea safety signs.”

A police spokesman added: “The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file has been prepared for the coroner.”