Concerns over access to lifesaving equipment on Eastbourne Pier after fisherman's death
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Rachel Redman, assistant coroner for East Sussex, has issued a Prevention of Future Deaths report following an inquest into the death of Graham Coombe. It was published on November 10.
The 56-year-old drowned after falling into the sea on the evening of May 1, 2022, having been seen sitting under the pier, says the report.
He was heard calling for help but when police arrived they could not gain access to the lower level because of a locked 10ft gate, according to the coroner’s report. It continued to say that police were eventually able to climb over the gate and make their way to the lower level, but were unable to access the lifesaving equipment they required.
"The life saving ring was neither in an accessible or visible place. It was in a cupboard hidden behind a bench. These safety aids should be stored visibly and be easily accessible,” Mrs Redman’s report said.
“The rope attached to the life saving ring was too short, although its length was within the prescribed regulatory guidelines, so that the buoyancy aid did not reach the water when thrown.
"I am concerned that the rope was of an insufficient length for the aid to reach the water at low tide [and] that there should be more life saving rings on Eastbourne Pier.
"I heard evidence that there should be one on either side of the pier half way down and one at its end.”
Mrs Redman was also concerned to learn that only the pier manager and maintenance worker were key-holders and neither was available on the day of the tragedy.
Sussex Police officers told the inquest that a key should be kept in a key safe on the pier and they should be given the code.
Mrs Redman said: “During the course of the investigation my inquiries revealed matters giving rise to concern.
"In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken.”
Eastbourne Pier owner Sheikh Abid Gulzar has been contacted for comment.