Disabled man saved from sea dies in hospital

A DISABLED man who fell into a harbour while strapped into his wheelchair has died.
James LewisJames Lewis
James Lewis

James Lewis was rushed to hospital following the horror fall at Port Seton harbour, in East Lothian, on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Lewis, who was left paralysed after a swimming pool accident in Spain three years ago, bravely battled for survival but lost his fight for life on Saturday at around 5.45pm.

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Relative Marlene Love led the tributes to the popular 56-year-old saying he was “an inspiration to us all” with the way he dealt with his disability, and has revealed that he is to help three people in need after donating his organs.

James Lewis was rescued from the harbour at Port Seton. Picture: CompJames Lewis was rescued from the harbour at Port Seton. Picture: Comp
James Lewis was rescued from the harbour at Port Seton. Picture: Comp

Mrs Love said: “James was a wonderful human being an incredibly brave person to know. I was his aunt but he grew up with my family and we treated him as one of our own. For all intent and purposes I regarded him as my son.

“He has had a terrible few years after his accident but he battled away bravely and never moaned about how life had dealt him a bad hand.

“He was very independent person and was a loveable rogue. He would have given anything to anybody and the fact he has donated his organs to others in need says everything there is to say about the man.

“We still don’t know what happened on Thursday afternoon at the harbour but it looks like it was a total accident.”

Mr Lewis, who lived in Edinburgh, served his apprenticeship as a butcher in the Port Seton Co-op before heading off to work aboard the QE2 for some years as a head waiter.

He also worked at the popular Edinburgh restaurant Giuliano’s before he was left paralysed after diving into a swimming pool during a golfing holiday with friends in Malaga, Spain, in 2012.

Mrs Love added: “It was a terrible shock to us all when he had the accident in Spain but James just got on with things.

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“He had some bad days, as to be expected, but his personality really shone through the adversity and he tried to be as independent as much as he could. He was a very positive person.

“The family are devastated at his passing, as you can imagine, and it will take a while for us to get over this.

“But the fact he has helped other people get on with their lives by donating his kidneys and liver is some comfort to us. His generosity, even in death, is an inspiration to us all.”

Friends and family have also taken to social media sites to pay tribute to the popular 56-year-old.

Paul Margets said: “Thanks for being part of my life – RIP you sweet, sweet man. Thanks for leaving me with so many memories.”

Dominique Danielle posted: “Such a kind and sweet person with an amazing soul. Your smile and laugh were contagious. I hope you are in a better place – fly high James, Peace and love.”

Chris Chirnside said: “You were one of a kind James – so many of us will miss your kindness, humanity and humour.”

And Belinda Roberts added: “Fly with the angels and dance with the stars James. Your courage and smile will never be forgotten. Rest in peace. xxx.”

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Following his fall from the quayside on Thursday, Mr Lewis was rescued by three brave locals who had heard the disabled man’s carer’s screams for help and dashed to his aid at about 12.40pm on Thursday.

His three rescuers are understood to have bravely jumped into the water in a bid to grab hold of Mr Lewis and drag him to safety before an ambulance ¬arrived.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police in East Lothian attended Port Seton Harbour at around 12.40pm on Thursday 9th July following reports of a man in the water.

“The man was recovered from the water and taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where he sadly passed away on Saturday 11th July.

“There are no suspicious circumstances and a report has been sent to the Procurator Fiscal.”