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Hayling Island RNLI volunteers attend kitesurfing tragedy.

Lifeboats News Release

On the morning of Sunday 5 March Hayling RNLI lifeboat crew were called to a kitesurfer in difficulty in Hayling Bay, but neither they nor UK Coastguard helicopter paramedics were able to save his life.

Hayling Island Lifeboat beached on the shore.

RNLI/Alan Bartlett

Atlantic 85 beached to transfer the casualty

The Hayling Kite School manager made a call directly to Hayling Isalnd RNLI Lifeboat Station reporting a kitesurfer in the water in Hayling Bay, not showing signs of getting back on his board.

As the volunteer lifeboat crew were already in their kit and about to launch on exercise they were diverted to go to assist the casualty and the UK Coastguard was informed that the Atlantic 85 lifeboat was on its way. They arrived on scene in 13 minutes due to the low tide and rough conditions with a Force 6/7 south westerly wind at times gusting Force 8 and with squally rain and hail showers.

The experienced local kitesurfer had been using an 11m kite and had been hit by one of the squalls. Another kitesurfer saw him depower the kite but the next time he saw the casualty he was in the water and not climbing back onto his board, so he went over to see if he could help and found the casualty face down in the water.

He managed to turn the casualty over and then with considerable skill towed him and the kite towards the shore. He realised however that he was not going to make it and so let the casualty drift onto a yellow marker buoy and he set off for the shore to call for help.

At this point the Hayling lifeboat arrived and at first thought the assisting kitesurfer was the one in trouble but he pointed to the casualty held by the yellow buoy. The lifeboat crew took the casualty on board and cut away the rigging and kite and immediately started CPR. The helm headed for the shore pausing to pick up the other kitesurfer and decided that although the tide was low and the lifeboat would not normally beach, in this crisis situation he needed to get the casualty ashore.

The crew used oxygen and continued CPR and the search and rescue helicopter was paged. It arrived very quickly and the helicopter paramedics took over treatment of the casualty who was transferred to a stretcher and airlifted to QA hospital. Sadly it was later learned he had been pronounced dead on arrival.

Portsmouth RNLI lifeboat crew were also involved in the incident. They were already afloat on exercise at the time and had heard Hayling lifeboat's radio call for medical assistance, so they raced to the scene and transferred two crew to the beach. They assisted with the transfer of the casualty then once the helicopter had taken off they helped to relaunch a heavy Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

RNLI media contacts

Alan Bartlett, Hayling Island RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer, 077498 061220 or alanjbartlett4@gmail.com

Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 07785 296252, tim_ash@rnli.org.uk

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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