Brothers killed by 'freak waves' on holiday in Cornwall

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Image caption,
Charles Allen (right) was dragged into the water while trying to save his brother Robert

Two brothers drowned when "freak waves" swept them off rocks while fishing on a family holiday, an inquest has heard.

Charles Allen, 21, was dragged into the water while trying to save his older brother Robert, 30, near Treyarnon Bay on 4 September 2017.

He had been knocked in by a "huge freak wave" which crashed against a cliff, a witness told the inquest in Truro.

Senior Cornwall coroner Dr Emma Carlyon concluded the Surrey-born brothers' deaths were accidental.

Student Charles was rescued by a lifeboat but later died in hospital, and the body of Robert Allen, a research associate at Bath University, was found a week later at Booby's Bay.

The brothers, from Bristol and Salisbury, were experienced "conscientious" fishermen, the inquest heard.

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Image caption,
The brothers were dragged into the water near Treyarnon Bay

Giving evidence, their father Anthony Allen told the inquest he found out his sons had been swept into the sea when he saw one of them brought ashore in a lifeboat.

He said he watched CPR being performed on his son Charles on the beach and his wife had "walked away in shock".

He added that his sons had "just bought life jackets but had left them in the car".

The brothers were on the family holiday to spend "quality time together" as their mother Margaret Allen was recovering from "major surgery", the inquest heard.

Image caption,
The RNLI sent a lifeboat to the scene near Treyarnon Bay

Charles and Robert's brother-in-law Andrew Thornton, who had been fishing with them near Pepper Cove, told the inquest: "Being a loyal brother, Charles climbed down to the sea edge to reach out to him.

"Just as he was reaching out another wave came and he got washed out."

He said he had run "in panic" to get help and did not have mobile phone reception, but eventually the alarm was raised.

Mr Thornton said both brothers were "taking their clothes off, trying to float" and were "taken in opposite directions, Rob taken out to sea and Charles to shore".

Steve Instance, the RNLI's community safety manager for the south-west of England, said the charity was carrying out an education programme for anglers as a direct result of this "waste of lives".

"We're working with them to promote wearing a life jacket. It's about carrying a throw-line or something like that, and about having appropriate means for calling for help. Satellite technology is by far the best," he said.