A HEARTBROKEN man spent five minutes battling to untie a knot in a lifebelt after his brother was swept out to sea.
John Trudgill leapt into action after his younger brother Pete was knocked into the water by a wave at Stonehaven Harbour.
But he discovered to his horror that the rope attached to the life-saving device had a knot in it.
He spent five precious minutes desperately trying to untie the rope in the hope that he could save the paramedics life.
Tragic Pete, 43, was in the stormy sea for more than 40 minutes before he was rescued from the water.
His colleagues managed to revive him but the father-of-two died in hospital the following day.
Now John is campaigning for better safety measures to be put in place at Stonehaven Harbour to stop the same thing happening to anyone else.
John, of Stonehaven, said: “If there had been a railing along that wall he would not have been washed into the sea.
“I got the life-ring out of the container only to find that the rope was tied in a big knot.
“When Pete was washed out to sea a large wave came down and we think knocked him on to some rocks.
“That happened within the first 10 minutes - and you are wasting five minutes trying to get a big knot undone.”
The tragedy happened in the small coastal town as John, his girlfriend, Nina, Pete and family friend Nick Veitch went for a walk on January 18.
Pete, a paramedic who lived near Westhill, was standing at the old Boathouse Cafe when a wave breached the wall and knocked him off his feet.
John, who lives in Stonehaven, said: “It knocked him off balance and I have
an image of him spread-eagled in the air as he flew off the harbour wall and into the sea.
“It was not a big wave that hit Pete.
“If I had thought he was in any danger I would have pulled him back, but it was not that kind of day.
“We all tried going into the sea, and if we had we would not have come out either.”
He was eventually pulled from the water by a police officer and two members of the public, placed in a rescue harness and airlifted to hospital.
Medics had managed to revive him but he died at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary at 3am the following day.
John, 45, said his brother’s death had devastated the family.
He said: “It still doesn’t quite seem real.
“Pete was probably the most important person in my life - we were closer than twins.
“His kids miss him terribly.”
John’s petition to improve safety at Stonehaven Harbour has already attracted around 260 signatures.
He has also met Aberdeenshire Council officers and members of Stonehaven Harbour Board to discuss potentially life-saving new measures.
And his family hope set up a plaque and bench in his memory too.
John, who used to go climbing with his younger brother, said: “I can’t think how it would feel if we didn’t do this and it happened to someone else.
“If just some small piece of good is coming out of it then that’s good.
“If measures can be put in place to prevent this happening, there is no reason not to.”
John also made a plea to members of the public not to tamper with emergency equipment, including lifebelts and throw-lines.
“I would ask people to think about what they are doing,” he said.
“It could be one your kids or your friends that needs that equipment, and if it isn’t there what happens?”