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Home / Sporting Events / Fishing / ‘Funny and caring’ angler died after sliding into sea during late night Tintagel fishing trip

‘Funny and caring’ angler died after sliding into sea during late night Tintagel fishing trip

An experienced angler died after sliding into the sea during a late night fishing trip, an inquest has heard.

Kirk Lorimer, 42, from St Dennis, was fishing off rocks at Tintagel Head with two friends when he ended up in the water.

The friends called emergency services immediately when the incident happened at around 12.40am on Sunday, February 18.

An inquest at County Hall in Truro heard that by the time RNLI and coastguard crews reached Kirk, he had been in the water for around 40 minutes.

The crews launched a search of the water and spotted Kirk in the swell, about 80ft from the cliffs.

He was pulled onto a lifeboat, where RNLI helmsman Damien Bolton began to work on him immediately.

He was then transferred to the coastguard helicopter and taken to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, but died on route.

The inquest heard that Kirk and his friends Peter Hersey and Sean Haley, who were members of the Par based ECC Ports Sea Angling Club, arrived at Tintagel between 9pm and 10pm on the night of the incident.

The three, who were experienced anglers, walked down to a fishing spot they had scouted around six months earlier, located around 20 to 30 feet above the sea at Barras Nose.

Peter told the hearing: “We tried to find the lowest safest area, we decided it should be fairly safe, with a comfortable platform out of the weather.”

He added that Kirk was a diabetic and that his health was “terrible”. He lived for his weekend fishing trips, even though they would leave him tired for several days after and unable to get out of bed.

“He would struggle walking long distances, he struggled climbing over rocks, but he loved doing it so he pushed himself way too much,” Peter added. “Carrying bags was a struggle but it was his passion, so he pushed through it.”

Sea conditions on the night were calm, and there was a slight mist in the air. After two to three hours of fishing, Kirk thought he had landed a catch.

Barras Nose at Tintagel, where the incident happened

“We heard Kirk shout ‘I’ve got one’, so we went over to him, in his eyes it was a good heavy fish, he had a bit of tussle with it,” Peter said.

“He said, ‘can we have a look to see if we can get down’, because his line had jammed on the rock below us.”

Peter looked to see if there was a pathway down, but decided it was too steep and slippery. Sean was also uncomfortable with Kirk going down.

But Kirk, who Sean described in a statement to police as “stubborn”, shimmied his way around 15 feet down the cliff and onto a flat section of rock located 20 feet above the water.

The pair continually communicated with Kirk, who said he was okay. But after around 15 minutes, Kirk stopped replying to his friends.

“His responses became less,” Peter said. “I said ‘if you can’t get down, can you just come back up’. But his responses decreased.”

After not receiving a response for around a minute, Peter focused his headlamp on Kirk.

“As I’ve focused on there, he’s started sliding in a seated in seated position. I said to Sean, ‘he’s going, he’s sliding, if he doesn’t stop now he’s going to go off the edge’.

“He sped up down the slope, he picked up speed and almost took off like a ramp, there were a few seconds and then splash. There was no impact on any rocks, he didn’t hit anything on the way down.”

Peter said Kirk made no attempt to stop himself from sliding.

“There was no panic or movement, which troubled me afterwards. It was eerily calm, he was in a seated position, even when he sped up there was no resistance. I’d imagine myself trying to grab onto something to slow the fall and slide.

Kirk Lorimer died after entering the sea at Tintagel

Kirk Lorimer died after entering the sea at Tintagel
(Image: Facebook)

“There was no noise from him.”

After Peter entered the water, Sean rushed up the cliff and called the Coastguard.

“I didn’t see any arm movements from him,” Peter said. “He just disappeared underneath the surface. After about a minute he surfaced again, I shouted his name every 10 seconds but I heard nothing.

“I was scanning the sea and I didn’t take my light off him. He was almost in the area he entered, floating on his back motionless.

“He slowly started floating out, I had good visibility of him for about half an hour. But I began losing sight of him, he caught the current and in a matter of minutes, the reflective wristband on his jacket faded.”

The RNLI lifeboat and Coastguard helicopter then arrived, and spotted Kirk in the swell about 80ft from the cliffs.

RNLI helmsman Damien Bolton said: “I grabbed the male and pulled him into the boat. There were no immediate signs of life. He was wearing a floatation suit but not a lifejacket.

“I raised his legs to do an abdomen squeeze, and a large volume of water came out of his mouth. There were no obvious signs of injury, and I started chest compressions.”

Barras Nose at Tintagel

Kirk was flown to Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital but died on route.

Pathologist Dr Katherine Syred told the inquest that Kirk had nicotine, cannabis, caffeine and amphetamine in his system, but Dr Syred said it was unlikely that any of these drugs played a role in the death.

The level of amphetamine was far below the toxic range and Kirk was also habituated to the drug, which he used for energy, according to his friends.

Mrs Syed said she could not categorically determine if Kirk had drowned.

She added that he had significant narrowing of the coronary arteries, and that he had certainly suffered a “very acute cardiac event” at some stage, either just prior to entering the water as a result of his coronary disease, or upon entering the water due to shock.

The fact Kirk made no attempt to stop himself from sliding into the water suggested he could have suffered the cardiac event while on the platform, although this could not be confirmed.

Either way, Kirk was not able to survive in the water due to the cardiac event.

Dr Syred concluded that the cause of death was coronary artery disease in a diabetic subject found drowned in water.

Assistant coroner for Cornwall Stephen Covell said: “The actions of Kirk’s two friends, Peter and Sean, were exemplary. They gave him the best chance of survival.

“He was located in the water and the police officer in charge of the investigation said that had they not been able to direct the emergency services to Kirk with such accuracy, it was very possible his body would have been lost for some considerable time.”

Mr Covell said he could not conclusively say whether Kirk died as a result of natural causes or an accident. But he could go further than returning an open conclusion.

“There was evidence of a cardiac event,” he said. “The potential possibilities were that Kirk had some cardiac event when he was on the rock slab which caused him to lose his hold and slip into the water, and then on entering the water he was disabled, unable to swim and breathed in water and drowned.

“The other possibility is that he simply accidentally lost his hold on the slab, fell into the water and then the shock of entering caused a cardiac event which led to his drowning.”

In a statement Kirk’s mother, Molly Lorimer, said she took comfort in knowing that her son died doing something he loved.

“He had become a keen fisherman since his early childhood and this would take up most of his free time,” she said.

“He would go whenever he would feel able with his friend Pete. He would go on weekends which would leave him drained for the rest of the week.

“Kirk was a lovely man, funny and caring. His recent ill health was a burden to him, and I know that he felt frustrated with his conditions. But his passion for fishing kept him going.

“I take some comfort knowing that he did that, that he had died whilst doing something that he loved passionately.”

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