Search for missing man to resume

Published: Sunday 11th January 2015 by The News Editor

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The search for a man who was swept out to sea in severe weather after standing by the water’s edge for a dare is expected to resume today.

Dan Nicholls, 23, got into difficulty after being knocked off his feet in “dangerous” gale force nine conditions by a wave near the Palace Pier on Brighton beach during the early hours of yesterday morning, according to Sussex Police.

The body of 24-year-old Freddie Reynolds, who went into the water to try to rescue his friend, was found washed up on Saltdean beach, four miles east of the pier, by a member of the public at 2.25pm yesterday, police said.

Mr Reynolds’ family praised his “bravery” after formally identifying his body yesterday.

In a statement released through Sussex Police, they said: “We are devastated but also extremely proud of Freddie and the bravery he showed in trying to save Dan.”

Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes said both of the men’s families were being supported by police and the search for Mr Nicholls would continue today.

Mr Hughes said initial investigations by officers found that Mr Nicholls had volunteered to stand by the sea as part of a dare following a night out in Brighton to celebrate one of his friends emigrating.

He said: “Five of the friends went to the seafront and Dan took up the dare and was at the water’s edge when we are told a wave hit him, knocking him off his feet and he was taken out to sea.

“On seeing this Freddie, with another friend, started to strip and Freddie dived in to rescue Dan but was also swept out.

“Their shocked friends tried to enter the water but were beaten back by the waves.

“Tragically, they saw Dan and Freddie together before they lost sight of them and called for the help of emergency services.”

Mr Nicholls and Mr Reynolds, both from Brighton, were old school friends who used to share a flat together, their families said.

Mr Reynolds, who worked as a dispensary technician at a chemist, was described as a “very loyal and brilliant friend” who people “loved” to be around.

His family said his loss would leave a “huge void in a lot of people’s lives”.

Mr Nicholls was “very bright” and “clearly well loved by many”, his family said.

They added: “Dan was a sensitive individual who had a real enthusiasm for life.

“He was a gentleman who always showed concern for others and was a great ‘hugger’.”

Search teams including the police, Coastguard, the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter, Brighton and Hove seafront officers, and members of the Sussex Search and Rescue Team repeatedly scoured the shoreline yesterday from the West Pier to Saltdean Lido.

Further searches by the Sussex Search and Rescue Team will take place today in the hope of finding Mr Nicholls’ body, police said.

Mr Hughes said: “Our thoughts go out to Dan and Freddie’s families and friends at this sad time.

“We will continue to do all we can to recover the second body.

“I would emphasise that people should keep away from the sea when it is so dangerous.”

Published: Sunday 11th January 2015 by The News Editor

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