Friend tells of agonising bid to save windsurfer; Man pays tribute to the 'lovely, gentle' pal he'd known for years.
A HEARTFELT tribute has been paid by the friend who tried to save the life of a windsurfer off Redcar coast on Friday.
Redcar dad-of-two Terry Bennions, 52, was alerted by others on the beach that his friend's sail had "gone down" close to where he was kitesurfing at Redcar offshore windfarm and told that he'd not been seen to get back up again.
Firefighter Terry started a frantic search for his friend - believed to be in his early seventies and from the Marton or Nunthorpe area of Middlesbrough - but feared the worst when he found his kit unattended at sea at about 2pm. He finally located his friend after about 10 minutes but he was semi-conscious.
At the request of family, police are not releasing the name of the man who died at this time.
Terry said: "I was heading out to surf but when I came on to the beach I was asked if I'd seen him.
"They said that his sail was down and they'd not seen him get back up again.
"I raced out to look for him but I couldn't find him for ages.
"I found his kit. He'd been separated from his windsurfer and I thought 'oh no.' "I was going backwards and forwards and found him semi-conscious. The wet suits are quite buoyant so I got hold of him as he was laying flat in the sea."
Terry managed to get him on to his knee but said at that point he became unconscious.
He said: "I gave him mouth to mouth and I was doing my best to massage his chest."
Terry said that he made his way back to shore in about 15 minutes where the lifeboat crew took over - still managing to give him CPR the entire way.
He has now paid tribute to his friend who passed away at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, where he had been taken for treatment in intensive care.
Terry said: "I just keep going over things and thinking 'could I have done something different'? "I've known him for about 10 to 12 years. We all watch out for each other.
"I'm just absolutely gutted. "He was lovely, gentle, quietly spoken."
He added: "He was a really nice man."