Inquest hears of desperate efforts to save swimmer who drowned off Durdle Door

Dorset Echo: RESCUE MISSION: The search at Durdle Door for the swimmer. RESCUE MISSION: The search at Durdle Door for the swimmer.

A FRIEND and a passer-by have told of their desperate attempts to try and save a swimmer who drowned in the sea off Durdle Door.

Henry George Maunder, 21, was visiting Lulworth Cove with friends Joshua Thomas and Samuel Weaver on October 23 when they decided to go for a swim off the beach at Durdle Door.

Mr Thomas, who, like Mr Maunder, is from Waterlooville in Hampshire, told an inquest into his friend’s death at County Hall in Dorchester that on the day there were blue skies but the sea was choppy.

He said the three started swimming out but Mr Weaver soon turned back because of the rough water, while he and Mr Maunder pushed on.

He said they stayed in the water for about ten to 15 minutes before deciding to turn back but got into difficulty trying to swim against the tide.

Mr Thomas said: “I looked back and Henry was still with me but he was starting to say ‘help me’.”

He said he twice tried to grab his friend’s arm but that forced him underwater and he started to sink. Mr Thomas said there was little he could do to help as he too was struggling and he made it back to shore where he called the coastguard. Meanwhile, David Cook from London was in the area with friends and heard shouts coming from the beach.

He swam out to Mr Maunder, who he found floating lifeless on the surface of the water.

Mr Cook attempted to pull Mr Maunder back to the shore and was joined by his friend Samuel Bordiss.

However, they too were struggling in the tide and Mr Cook said his friend had to let go and swim back to shore.

He was left there still holding Mr Maunder but when he saw Mr Bordiss getting into trouble as he attempted to get back to the beach Mr Cook said he had no choice but to abandon the rescue attempt.

He said: “I made the decision to let go due to the fact that I wasn’t getting any closer to shore. Sam was getting into difficulty and I was getting extremely fatigued.”

Mr Cook added: “I tried as hard as I possibly could to get that man back to shore.”

Mr Maunder’s body was found a week later, when Police Sergeant Jonathan Wasey spotted it out at sea on November 1 and it was recovered by the coastguard.

CORONER PRAISES EFFORTS

CORONER for Dorset Sheriff Payne described the decision from the young men to head out into the rough waters as ‘foolish’ and praised the efforts of Mr Cook to save Mr Maunder.

He ruled that Mr Maunder died from misadventure. Mr Payne said: “It’s always easy to look at matters in hindsight but it would seem to have been a very foolish venture to have gone in the water in those conditions.”

Mr Payne said to Mr Cook: “Can I thank you for your efforts on that day.

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