Dog walker swept away in sea off Blackpool named

 

A man who was swept into the sea in gale-force winds, leading to a search operation involving the Duke of Cambridge, has been named by police.

Paul Morris, 41, from South Shore, Blackpool, Lancashire, was walking near the resort's Promenade with his dog and two friends when he and another man were swept into the water just after midnight on New Year's Day.

William, an RAF Search and Rescue helicopter pilot, was called out with crewmates from his base at RAF Valley on Anglesey to help locate the man after his friend managed to climb out and raise the alarm.

The Duke used the lights from his Sea King helicopter to help RNLI and Coastguard crews from Blackpool and Lytham St Annes look for the dog walker in the water.

Several searches carried out since yesterday's tragedy have been unable to recover Mr Morris's body and no further searches are planned, Lancashire Police said today.

A spokeswoman said: "A man who was swept into the sea at Blackpool just after midnight on New Year's Day has been named as 41-year-old Paul Morris. from South Shore, Blackpool, previously from Barrow-in-Furness.

"Sadly, despite shoreline searches, his body has not yet been recovered from the water.

"There are no further searches planned."

Mr Morris and his friends were walking along steps leading from the Promenade to the sea, close to the Central Pier on South Shore, when a wave washed them into the water, police said.

Flight Lieutenant Wales, as the Duke is known in the military, completed his first rescue as a fully operational pilot in October 2010, helping a man who fell seriously ill while working on a gas rig in Morecambe Bay.

William has gone on to qualify as an operational captain, which gives him overall control of his helicopter.

A source confirmed the Duke had taken part in the search for Mr Morris.

RAF Search and Rescue attend an average of 1,950 call-outs each year. RAF Valley typically responds to a high number, as it covers North Wales, popular for walking and climbing.

Mr Morris is survived by his mother, sister and two brothers, police said.

In a statement issued by the force, his family thanked those involved in the search and rescue operation.

They said: "Paul is a hard working man who enjoys spending time with friends and loves his family dearly.

"He's only recently moved back to Blackpool and we're obviously shocked by what has happened and it's a difficult time for us all, particularly as Paul can't swim and we fear the worst.

"We're now just waiting for that fateful call to say that he's been found so we can have some closure.

"We'd like to thank all the emergency services for their efforts in trying to find and rescue Paul."

PA

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