A local parish council has made claims the Duchy of Cornwall should bear some responsibility for the unfortunate death of a man who was swept out to sea after being caught in a rip-current on Crantock Beach. Oneil Din, 27, was swept out to sea after being stood in relatively shallow waters, and despite being brought to shore by local surfers and airlifted to hospital he failed to recover. In the bad storms in 2015, a breakwater was damaged and this has caused the River Gannel to alter its route out to sea.
A rip-current is not always obvious to the naked eye, and is a strong narrow current flowing away from the beach, where there are breaking waves especially if they are coming into the beach from more than one location. In this case, it would appear when the man stepped into the rip current, though the sea was shallow the unexpectedly fast current swept him off his feet and out to sea.
The parish council has made representations to the Duchy of Cornwall, both by messages and in meetings with other stakeholders in the area. They said they were “extremely concerned about the safety risks to the public at large on a very busy beach, especially in the summer, and the possibility of an unfortunate, and potentially fatal, situation occurring”.
The Duchy has replied expressing condolences to the family of the dead man. They also confirmed that following the comments of the Parish Council the previous year they had commissioned an independent risk assessment of the situation. This assessment advised the Duchy that the most immediate and appropriate way to mitigate the risk was to improve the signage at both the beach and the relevant pages of the website – which was completed in 2016.
Though one option was to replace the damaged breakwater, this was not a simple move. The area is part of a Marine conservation area and there are restrictions as to what can be done and when. There is also the strong chance, as was agreed in a parish council meeting, that any repairs to the breakwater could well be reversed by nature and they would be back to square one.
The Duchy also indicated it would meet again with the parish council, National Trust (who own the upper part of the beach) and other stakeholders to review the situation.