A man seen walking into the sea at prompted a full-scale air, land and sea search and rescue operation late last night.
Tynemouth RNLI inshore and all-weather lifeboats launched just before 11pm last night after they received a report that an angler had witnessed a fully-clothed man walk into the sea near to Marsden Grotto, South Tyneside.
Arriving at the scene just five minutes after launching, the volunteer lifeboat crews commenced a search of the sea in the area and also launched the all-weather lifeboat’s inflatable ‘Y’ boat with two crew as an additional resource.
The lifeboats were joined in the search, coordinated throughout by Humber Coastguard, by helicopters from Northumbria Police and RAF Boulmer, and on land by members of Sunderland Coastguard Rescue Team and South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade.
After the search had continued for nearly three hours no trace of the man had been seen and Coastguards reluctantly stood down the searchers, with the intention of reassessing the situation in the morning, and possibly restarting the search.
However, at around 5.30am police discovered the body of a man 600m from where the man was seen to enter the water and in the light of that information it was decided no more searches would be carried out.
Formal identification of the man has not yet taken place but Police believe this is the same man seen to enter the water.
Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station, said: “Both of our lifeboats were paged to launch just before 11pm last night after a man was seen by an angler to walk into the sea at Marsden.
“Our lifeboats with a total of 12 volunteer crew members carried out a structured search of the sea in the area where he was seen, supported by the RAF and Police helicopters and the shore-based rescue teams, all coordinated by the watch officers at Humber Coastguard.
“After nearly three hours of searching every possible avenue had been exhausted and the search was called off, with the intention of possibly restarting in daylight.
“Unfortunately a body was found on the beach and police believe that this is the same person who we were searching for.
“Our thoughts and sympathies lie with his friends and family at what will be a very difficult time for them.”