Alsager tourist died swimming in rough seas, inquest hears
A HOLIDAYMAKER has told how he saw his friend die as he swam in rough seas.
Fellow tourists helped Paul Morrey as stricken Chris Rhead was pulled onto the beach with the aid of a rope and a rubber ring last August.
But medics were unable to save 47-year-old Mr Rhead who was on holiday in Northern Spain.
A post-mortem examination carried out 16 days after his death found Mr Rhead had died from Anoxia following submersion in water, a reduced supply of oxygen to the brain.
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But Mr Rhead's parents will never know exactly what caused their son to get into difficulties in the sea.
Cheshire deputy coroner Janet Napier recorded a verdict of accidental death at an inquest in Crewe yesterday.
The inquest heard how father-of-three Mr Rhead, of Winston Avenue, Alsager, was on a camping holiday with friend Mr Morrey when the tragedy struck.
Mr Morrey, who lives in Middlewich, said: "It was a nice day so we went for a swim. The sea was rough but we had both been in before.
"The first time we went in Chris got knocked over and hurt his back a bit, but we laughed about it.
"We waded out and dived through the first wave but as I came up I was a bit disorientated.
"I thought it was a bit too rough for me so I got out, but I could see Chris. He was swimming okay and I wasn't too worried.
"But then I could see he was drifting towards the rocks so I was shouting at him to be careful."
Mr Morrey told how he went to seek help from fellow tourists after becoming worried when Mr Rhead did not respond.
The engineer added: "They had a ring with a rope attached and threw it towards Chris. It landed about two metres short of him, but he didn't see it. I could see Chris was floating on his face and the water was moving him.
"An ambulance was called and they got Chris back to the beach. He had foam around his nose and mouth so they took him away and I didn't see him again."
Ex-wife Vanessa Rhead, an administrative assistant, of Winston Avenue, Alsager, told the inquest: "I saw him on the Thursday before he went away and he texted me when he got there on the Saturday and told me he was enjoying his holiday. He was a very good swimmer."
Recording her verdict, Mrs Napier said: "He was going towards the rocks, and people were throwing things to him but he wasn't responding. Then he fell on his face and was floating.
"He doesn't seem to have been swept away by the current and we don't know why he wasn't responding.
"This was a complete and utter disaster. We don't quite know how he got into the scenario and why he didn't reply.
"This was a terrible shock for everybody."