An experienced surgeon from Leeds is believed to be among three people who died while surfing at a coastal beauty spot.
Stuart Calder, 52, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon who worked for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, drowned off Mawgan Porth beach in Newquay, Cornwall, yesterday.
He and two other adults, a 44-year-old man and a 42-year-old woman from St Austell, were pulled unconscious from the sea at about 1.30pm and taken to hospital, where all three were confirmed dead.
Four teenage boys – two aged 18, one aged 16 and one aged 15 – attended the hospital but were found to be “safe and well”.
It is thought one of the adults may have been attempting to save a young surfer in difficulty when they died.
Details of the rescue have been emerging, with the RNLI reporting that one of the casualties could have gone into the sea to help a stricken surfer.
Gareth Horner, lifeboat operations manager, said: “Mawgan Porth is a dangerous beach. We don’t know the exact circumstances or the ability of the people that were rescued today.
“My understanding is that they were in two groups and that one of the casualties actually entered the sea to assist other people who were in trouble.”
Mr Horner described conditions at the beach at the time as “not really very good for surfing and bodyboarding”.
Steve Instance, RNLI lifeguard manager for the South West, told the BBC: “From the reports we have, one of the people who drowned may have gone in to try to help the others. We believe that the group of children may have been the first to get into difficulty.”
Police have said the victims of the tragedy have not been formally identified.
Inspector Dave Meredith, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said he could “not comment either way” on whether the surfers were related.
“What I can say is that the information we can provide is we have the exact names of the people involved,” he said.
“They were a 52-year-old man from Leeds, a 44-year-old man from St Austell and a 42-year-old woman also from St Austell.
“The four others were all teenage males aged 18, 18, 16, and 15. They were also taken to Treliske and pronounced safe and well.”
The families of all three have been informed.
The four youngsters who managed to escape as “walking wounded” were all boys, two aged 18, one 16 and one 15.
They were also taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital for treatment as a precaution.