Coroner praises public for rushing into the sea at Cromer to try and save man

Student paramedic Lucy Hammond near the site on Cromer beach where she pulled a drowning man from th

Student paramedic Lucy Hammond near the site on Cromer beach where she pulled a drowning man from the sea. Picture: ALEX HURRELL - Credit: Archant

A coroner has praised the actions of two members of the public who ran into the sea to try and save a man.

Student paramedic Lucy Hammond and Michael Aldred rushed into the surf at Cromer beach after spotting Benjamin Marsh in trouble.

Moments earlier, the 43-year-old had been seen putting his head in and out of the water, some 30m from the beach.

An inquest in Norwich yesterday heard how the pair pulled his unconscious body onto dry land, before starting CPR.

With help from another off-duty paramedic, Ms Hammond managed to get a pulse and Mr Marsh was flown to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

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But despite the best efforts from medical staff, he died several days later on July 27 from a hypoxic brain injury, as a result of drowning.

The inquest heard how Mr Marsh, from Cabbell Road, Cromer, had asked 'which way to Holland' before going into the sea on July 21.

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Mr Aldred, who was sitting by the beach with his family at the time, had also been told by Mr Marsh that he 'better call an ambulance'.

As he went out into the sea, Mr Aldred called 999 and asked for the coastguard, while his wife asked another group if they knew 'first aid'.

It was at this point that Ms Hammond, fully clothed, ran into the water, which was still only chest deep when she reached him.

A day prior to the incident, Mr Marsh had been detained by police for breach of peace after he had started to self harm, the inquest heard.

It was understood that he had started to become anxious about potentially losing his accommodation with Cromer's Genesis Housing Association.

After being assessed by a medical examiner, he was taken home and the last time housing association staff saw him was at 10.45pm.

The inquest heard how Mr Marsh had struggled with drug and alcohol addiction.

And in March last, the mother of his child died, which he found 'difficult' to deal with.

In a written statement, his mother Susan, said: 'This was hard for him, but it made him more determined to get his life back on track for the sake of his boy.

'Things were really looking up for him and he was positive about the future.'

Giving a conclusion of death by misadventure, Coroner Jacqueline Lake said: 'He gave no indication to any family members, his doctor, or police while he was in custody, that he had any thoughts of ending his own life.

'I am satisfied that he intended to go into the sea, but that his death was an unintended consequence of his actions.

'I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Lucy and Mr Aldred for going into the sea and attempting to rescue Mr Marsh, against the advice of the coastguard.'

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