Norfolk

Father drowned off Sea Palling despite rescue mission

Sea Palling where Leszek Puchala had been swimming before he got caught in a riptide and drowned Image copyright GEOGRAPH: PAUL BUCKINGHAM
Image caption Leszek Puchala was swimming off the beach at Sea Palling when he got caught in a riptide and drowned

A father drowned despite the efforts of onlookers, including a schoolboy lifeguard who helped save his son's life.

Leszek Puchala, 52, got caught in a riptide while swimming at Sea Palling, near Great Yarmouth, on 23 July.

Norfolk Coroner's Court heard he and one of his sons were face down in the water and unconscious.

Mr Puchala was pronounced dead at the beach. His son was taken to hospital and survived.

Beachgoers initially thought the father and three sons were enjoying themselves when they heard shouts in Polish about 50m (164ft) from the shoreline, but rushed into the waves with body boards when they realised they were in distress.

Trained lifeguard David Castleman, 14, swam out and turned Mr Puchala and his son over before towing the boy to shore.

Image caption Onlookers including a schoolboy lifeguard helped in the rescue mission

Mr Puchala, a Polish builder visiting Thetford to see his newborn granddaughter, was given CPR on the beach by an off-duty doctor and a fireman but died.

His two other sons, Tomasz and Sebastian, were conscious and made it to shore.

Matthew Steiner, who was at the beach, said it was busy and the shouts could not be heard clearly over the noise of others.

"The people were Polish and this may have been a reason why it was not clear that they were in trouble," he added.

'Loving and devoted'

Area coroner Yvonne Blake, recording a narrative conclusion, said: "Mr Puchala got into difficulties while swimming. He was pulled ashore and resuscitation commenced.

"Unfortunately this did not succeed and he was pronounced dead at the scene."

His family said in a written statement: "We would like to thank our father for always providing us with help, advice and his loving heart.

"He was a very good man who never refused to help anybody. A loving and devoted husband, father of three and grandfather and a loyal friend to many."

Mr Castleman and others have been put forward for bravery awards for their rescue efforts.

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