Brave fisherman tells of North Pier horror

The North Pier in Blackpool where a man drowned
The North Pier in Blackpool where a man drowned

A WIGAN fisherman has told of his desperate attempts to save the life of a man who plunged 40ft into the sea in Blackpool.

Darren Tomlinson, 43, described the horrific moment he was fishing at the end of the North Pier when he spotted a man slip into the choppy waters around noon yesterday.

He raced to the nearest life ring and hurled it into the sea, hoping the man would grab hold – but instead he was dragged under the pier by the strong current.

Mr Tomlinson then sprinted round the other side of the pier, but could not reach the man.

And despite frantic attempts by the RNLI and Coastguard to save the man’s life, he was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

Police today said they were not treating the man’s death as suspicious.

Mr Tomlinson, who had been staying on the Fylde coast at his caravan near Windy Harbour in Wyre, said he was shocked and upset as he saw the man plunge into the Irish Sea.

A member of the Springfield Anglers Club, which regularly fishes off the pier, he said: “I was just in shock. I have been a member at the club for three years and it’s the first time anything like this has happened.

“It is pretty shocking. I have never witnessed something like this – it is upsetting to think this could happen.

“I’d been out fishing from 8am. It was near lunchtime and the man had been there about 25 minutes – he had a blue case with him.

“He was having a look over the side and moving about a bit.

“I heard him say something. I heard someone say something again and when I looked around he was on the opposite side of the railing.

“He pointed to a couple near him and said ‘that’s my case with my stuff in.’

“He just dropped in.

“I didn’t think - I just raced across and grabbed the life ring. I threw it in and let it drift under the pier as the current was running that way.

“He was under the railings face down. He was just still. It must have been a matter of minutes.

“A few minutes later and he just disappeared.”

Emergency crews including police, the RNLI and the Coastguard raced to the incident, with the man being pulled from the water and given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by lifeboatmen.

But the man – believed to be in his 40s or 50s – was pronounced dead at the scene.

Another fisherman, John Smith, 81, South Shore, also witnessed the incident.

He added: “I saw the guy at the end of the pier. I turned my back and next thing he was gone.

“Darren shouted, ‘He’s fallen in.’

“He went under the pier and then was gone. We spotted him again under the stanchions.

“I have only seen this happen once before and that was on South Pier. It is very sad.”

Last year, Blackpool’s RNLI team was the busiest in the North of Englans with 94 call-outs.

A spokesman for the Coastguard said: “We had the Lytham St Annes coastal rescue team and the Blackpool inshore lifeboats dispatched to the scene.

“The man was recovered from the water and given mouth to mouth resuscitation by RNLI crews.

“He was taken to the ambulance but pronounced dead on arrival.”

Lancashire police’s force incident manager Phil Broughton said: “Someone has gone into the sea and could not be revived.

“There are no suspicious circumstances around the incident. Unfortunately the person could not be resuscitated.”