Missing swimmer: Body found

Sarah Brealey Coastguards found a body early this morning as they searched for a missing swimmer in the sea near Cromer pier.The body of a 33-year-old who went missing after being spotted swimming ashore at just after 6pm yesterday was discovered in the water near the pier just after midnight.

Sarah Brealey

Coastguards found a body early this morning as they searched for a missing swimmer in the sea near Cromer pier.

The body of a 33-year-old who went missing after being spotted swimming ashore at just after 6pm yesterday was discovered in the water near the pier just after midnight.

Watch manager Mario Siano, who coordinated last night's search and rescue operation, said: "The body matches the description of the missing man." Next of kin have been informed of the discovery.

Five lifeboats, a helicopter and more than 30 people searched the surf at the height of the drama, which began at 6.10pm.

The local man went missing after being spotted swimming ashore after climbing around the pier legs.

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Emergency services launched as soon as he got into trouble as his plight was seen by lifeboat officials who happened to be on the pier.

And the headlining comic of the resort's pier show, Peter Piper, even stripped to the waist and waded in to help. He told the EDP that he had heard a commotion and had dashed into the sea.

“The show was the second thing on my mind,” he said.

Last night, as show music filtered from the pavilion theatre and the light faded, the search continued outside, watched by crowds along the seafront, including tearful relatives of the missing man.

But at 10.30pm, the search was called off.

Lifeboat officials warned of the dangers of swimming near the pier, which is normally patrolled by lifeguards until 6pm. Chairman Tony Webster, who was on the pier with his wife, said he was aware of people climbing under the pier, then heard two splashes.

He alerted station operations manager Richard Leeds, who was in the boathouse.

Mr Leeds said he leaned over and spoke to one man who was holding on to a pier strut, saying he was about to swim to shore.

“We watched him swim over the east groyne, then he suddenly stopped and we could see he was not going anywhere, so I launched the inshore boat.”

As they watched, the man slipped under the water.

Soon the Cromer boats were joined by others from Mundesley and Sheringham and an air-sea rescue helicopter, along with the offshore boat's two-man “Y” boat, scouring an area as far as Trimingham to the east and up to three-quarters of mile out to sea.

Other crew members waded chest deep through the surf. Lifeguards were called back to help, and coastguards searched the sea and shore.

The other man who had been in the water apparently made it safely back to shore, and station administrator Peter Stibbons added a stern warning that the area under the pier, especially the east groyne, was “notorious”.

In 1995, 10-year-old Graham Raddon died after being caught in a rip tide at the same spot where the man disappeared.

And five years ago two local schoolgirls were plucked from the same current by rescuers - one of whom was dangled from the pier on a rope.

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