Lost at sea

Jumping in the sea today – January 5th – You just wouldn’t do it…

Today marks 37 years since 3 heroic officers lost their lives by doing just that to save a stranger.

At around 2 p.m. on the 5th of January 1983 a 999 call came in to the local control room reporting that there was a sighting of a man in the sea close to Gynn Square.

Police constables Angela Bradley, Gordon Connelly and Colin Morrison aged between 23 and 38 were part of the patrols that were dispatched to the scene. They were due to clock off but responded to the call.

Dog swept out to sea.

Alistair Anthony was aged 25 and was a Scottish holiday maker visiting at Blackpool. Whilst walking his Jack Russell dog, it appeared that the dog had been swept into the sea and had jumped in to rescue his faithful companion. A familiar sight along Blackpool’s Coastline at this time of year is the choppy Waters and crashing waves that unfortunately were too much for Anthony to overcome.

Some of the first officers on the scene where Bradley and Connolly. They attempted to rescue Mr Anthony with the use of Promenade lifebelt. The sea was too strong for the officers and they were sadly swept into the sea.

Whilst the emergency services rushed towards the scene, road traffic officer Morrison who stopped his vehicle close to the scene after seeing the commotion that was unfolding – joined in with the rescue efforts. There was a strong westerly gale that day and with the heavy sea and the wind, the officer was unsuccessful in his own rescue attempts and was washed away by the water.

The sea was so rough that the Lifeboat travelling from Fleetwood could not reach the scene for 3 hours. Once the lifeboat did arrive, it was not able to get any closer than 68 m to the last reported location of the officers in the sea.

A fourth officer PC Abram courageously entered the turbulent water to try to rescue his colleagues. Due to the conditions the officer was was thrown against the sea wall and then dragged back out to the sea and in the process was injured. He was successfully rescued and despite his injuries re-entered the water to continue his efforts to save the lives of his colleagues. Once again however he was thrown against the seawall and had to be rescued with a Lifeline.

Following Abrams’ unsuccessful attempts to rescue the dog, walker and the police officers, the chief superintendent issued an order that nobody else should go in the water from that point onward.

It was reported that a doctor who was also a Cave Rescue expert was passing the scene at the time. PC Pat Abram expressed gratitude to the doctor, who he credited for saving his life.

Following this tragic event, some changes were made to the rules of ocean rescue. these days officers are advised that they should avoid jumping into dangerous waters and instead to wait for a specialist team to arrive who is better equipped and trained to deal with these situations.

A memorial now stands close to the scene of the tragic accident to remember the lives of those police officers who lost their lives attempting to rescue a member of the public. Sadly Alistair Anthony also lost his life that day.