Missing hotel worker's body found

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The Independent Online

A body recovered from the River Severn was identified by police today as that of a swimmer who went missing last week.

Dave Ellams, a chef, went missing on 23 June after he was drinking and waded into the sea with his friend Lee Tompkins near Birnbeck Pier in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

Police today confirmed the body of a man recovered in the Severn Estuary on 30 June was formally identified as 34-year-old Mr Ellams, from Weston-super-Mare.

A second body recovered by lifeboat has not yet been identified. Mr Tompkins consequently remains formally unfound.

More than 50 personnel, an RAF helicopter and lifeboats were dispatched to the Bristol Channel to find the men last week - but to no avail and the search was called off 24 hours later.

Swansea Coastguard received reports that the men stripped down to their boxer shorts on the beach and entered the water while their girlfriends - Aimee Crisp and Emma Flinders - remained nearby.

Miss Crisp, Mr Ellams' partner, said she felt "numb" after witnessing the two hotel workers being swept away by the powerful tide.

She said: "I don't think it's actually quite sunk in, and it won't sink in until we find the bodies."

She went on: "We just decided to go down on to the rocks, just for a few drinks and to have a laugh, and they decided to go out for a swim.

"I turned around and told them not to go out too far and I think the sea was just a bit too much for them."

The initial call to the Coastguard was made just after 9pm on on June 23, and by 9.13pm the two men were believed to have been swept half a mile offshore and were heard still shouting for help.

As sunlight faded, two flares were fired from the beach by the Coastguard in an effort to light the scene.

The Coastguard Rescue Team and RNLI lifeboats at Weston-super-Mare were contacted at the same time and Avon and Somerset Police informed.

A rescue helicopter from RAF Chivenor was scrambled, as was the Burnham inshore lifeboat.

A spokesman for Burnham-on-Sea RNLI said the men were "apparently under the influence of alcohol".