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Swimmer drowns in rough sea off Broadstairs

By ThanetGazette  |  Posted: June 05, 2012

  • SEARCH: Ramsgate Lifeboat searches the coast close to Louisa Bay in Broadstairs for the missing swimmer

  • RESCUE: Emergency crews at Dumpton Gap, where hero cafe owner Paul Naisbitt climbed ashore

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A TEACHER drowned and one of his pupils was saved by a heroic onlooker after they were caught in rough seas off Broadstairs on Monday (June 4).

The two men got into difficulty after climbing into the sea from the lower promenade in Louisa Bay at 11.30am - against the advice of bystanders.

Paul Naisbitt, who runs the Louisa Bay Cafe, dived straight into the water and rescued one of the men, but the other was washed away. 

His wife Camilla later posted on Facebook: "My kids witnessed their dad going in the sea and I am sorry for the man who died but we told them not to go in the sea and there could have been more fatalities."

Mrs Naisbitt called the emergency services as soon as her husband dived in.  

There was a strong tide with waves lashing over the promenade. Witnesses said the conditions were as bad as they have seen for months.

Mr Naisbitt pulled the younger of the two men, named in the Jewish press as Rabbi Yitzhak Beigel, to safety in Louisa Bay.

He tried to hold onto the older swimmer, believed to be Rabbi Chaim Breish, 65, dean of an high school in Stamford Hill's Orthodox Jewish community in London, as they were carried around to Dumpton Gap.

But Rabbi Breisch was dragged off by the tide.

Witnesses and well-wishers have paid tribute to Mr Naisbitt's rescue bid, describing him as a"true hero" on social networking site Facebook.

Rabbi Breisch was then spotted 30 metres off the coast below the George VI Memorial Hospital in Ramsgate.

An inshore lifeboat team carried him to Ramsgate Harbour where he was winched onto a search and rescue helicopter tasked from RAF Wattisham.

He was rushed to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, but later died. He is believed to have been visiting a relative who lives in the area.

For a full report see Friday's Isle of Thanet Gazette.

Read more from Kent and Sussex Courier

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  • Visdadavid  |  June 08 2012, 12:55AM

    Just would like to thank everyone who has helped out I am a close relative of the younger man who survived, Thanks again David

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  • louisabay  |  June 06 2012, 11:46PM

    I have seen many inaccurate reports about what happened on Monday 4th June. I do not wish to speak to the press but would like the correct version of events to be known. We did not see the two men get into the water just round from my café but a lady came running round saying they were in trouble and my wife called 999. The younger man was able to clamber out at our café steps but the older gentleman was not, so I got into the water to try and help him out. Because of the exceptionally high tide and strong wind I was not able to get him out there but went through the waves (to stop us crashing into the concrete sea wall) and took him to Dumpton Gap where there is normally a beach. Unfortunately there was no sand and the sea was still very fierce. Myself and 2 other members of the public tried desperately but were unable to beat the waves and we had to abandon the rescue. I feel very sorry I could not save him and I pass on my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time. Thank you all for your messages of support and best wishes but I only wish I could have done more. Paul Naisbitt 6th June 2012

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  • Rayhnotts  |  June 05 2012, 7:14PM

    This was very sad, my brother has just moved to Broadstairs, a lovely little town." and me me and my family were visiting. I feel sad I couldn't help in time, I arrived just after the younger guy had been rescued and the older chap was already (in my opinion) deceased as he was very blue and not moving. I did go into the sea but I have never experienced conditions like that and despite my efforts I was not able to pull the Older guy out. The chap from the tea shop was amazing and I really feel for him. Well done sir, you were a real hero. Sad day but a warning to all to respect the sea.

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  • michaelwen  |  June 05 2012, 2:54PM

    See also 'sea swimming' in this Wikipedia entry: http://tinyurl.com/7upxb5w

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  • michaelwen  |  June 05 2012, 2:41PM

    The tide at Broadstairs does not sweep swimmers in and out. as might be expected, but rather it runs 'sideways', or parallel to the shore, as this tragic accident demonstrates. This is quite unusual anywhere in the world, and non-local swimmers would not be expecting this. These swimmers entered the water at Louisa Bay and were carried as far as Dumpton Gap (and beyond), all the time apparently less than 100 metres offshore. As the tide goes up and down, water flows up and down the English Channel, to/from the North Sea, and so it runs *along* the coast here. This huge flow of water is much more significant than any in/out flow you might expect from the tide. Also it is very fast: at peak flow, the tide off the coast of Broadstairs runs faster than any swimmer can swim. The way to escape is to swim towards the nearest part of the shore, wherever the tide has carried the swimmer, rather than to try and return to the swimmer's original point of entry, which is practically impossible. Between Louisa Bay and Dumpton Gap there is a concrete breakwater which can only be accessed via staircases from the sea. In a rough sea at high tide, even this would be difficult. With increased interest in sea swimming, swimmers and others in Broadstairs need to be aware of these special circumstances. Happily, many visitors only swim in Viking Bay which, except at very low tide, creates a relatively sheltered bay between the pier and the paddling pool, out of the main flow of the Channel tide. The effect of this 'sideways tide' is much reduced there. In summer months until 6 PM there is also a lifeguard there. I am a regular swimmer in Viking Bay during the summer and speak from experience. Michael Wenyon Broadstairs

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