Cliff plunge man dies despite daring rescue

Car tragedy at Beachy Head
Car tragedy at Beachy Head

A man died after the car he was in plunged 400 feet over the notorious Beachy Head cliff.

George Lloyd-Lewis survived the fall despite being thrown from the blue Volkswagen Passat on October 12. But the 26-year-old died of his injuries that night.

The cliff plunge sparked a daring rescue mission as crews from Eastbourne lifeboats battled rising tides and high waves to save the Cheshire man.

First on the scene around 6.30pm was Alan Simister, who found Mr Lloyd-Lewis alive which launched the dangerous rescue.

Mr Simister called for back-up and the rescue boat’s doctor, Stephen Lytton, and a crew member were sent to the man.

Doctor Lytton then supervised the moving of the man up the beach, which was iluminated by flares and searchlights from the all-weather lifeboat.

Mr Lloyd-Lewis and the doctor were then winched to safety and airlifted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital by the Coastguard rescue helicopter 10.

Royal National Lifeboat Institute coxswain Mark Sawyer helped co-ordinate the rescue.

He said: “Alan was the first crewman on the scene. He went to the car to investigate how many people were there. When he got there he found the person laying next to the car; you don’t expect someone to survive that fall but he reported the man was alive.

“We had a doctor on board and so arranged for him and a crewman trained in first aid to go ashore and we requested a helicopter.

“Because of the rising tide at this stage Alan was trying to hold and support the casualty while the tide was lapping around him. He had to hold the casualty’s head above the water.

“The decision was made to move up the beach because otherwise they would not have survived because of the tide. It was a ‘life or limb’ situation.”

Sussex Police said there were no suspicious circumstances and the matter has been passed to the coroner’s officer.