Victim of Cornish surf tragedy was surgeon

Members of a surf school take to the waves at Mawgan Porth beach in Cornwall. Picture: Hemedia
Members of a surf school take to the waves at Mawgan Porth beach in Cornwall. Picture: Hemedia
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ONE of three surfers who died at a coastal beauty spot is believed to have been a hospital consultant, it has emerged.

Stuart Calder, 52, and two other adults got into difficulty in the water off Mawgan Porth beach in Newquay, Cornwall, on Sunday afternoon.

They were pulled from the sea unconscious – alongside four unharmed children – and taken to hospital in a serious condition but were later pronounced dead.

Devon and Cornwall Police said those who died were a 52-year-old man from Leeds, and a 44-year-old man and a 42-year-old woman, both from St Austell.

Formal identification of the victims is expected today and police confirmed that their deaths are not being treated as suspicious.

Four teenage boys – two aged 18, one 16 and one 15 – were also taken to hospital but were found to be “safe and well”.

It is understood that the man from Leeds was Mr Calder, who worked as an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in treating knee conditions at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. He also had a private practice.

It is believed he was visiting Newquay on holiday.

In 2012, Mr Calder raised around £3,500 for Bristol’s Children’s Hospital after they treated his daughter Sofia who was born with a congenital heart defect.

Yesterday, childhood friend Eric Hanson paid tribute to Mr Calder.

Mr Hanson, who lives in Florida, said: “He was very compassionate and very generous and a friend to all.” He added that Mr Calder’s family were “devastated” by what had happened.

Brendon Prince, a lifeguard from Torbay in Devon, was visiting Mawgan Porth with a friend when the drama unfolded.

He said: “We ran to the first person and dragged them out of the water with one or two other people helping. Obviously, we sent for a defibrillator and paramedics as soon as we could.

“We then did CPR on the man for 20 minutes before the emergency services arrived.” Mr Prince said he spoke to the man’s wife at the scene.

He said he believed the man had been in the water with his son and may have been caught in a rip tide.

Further details of the rescue emerged with the RNLI reporting that one of the casualties may have gone into the sea to help a stricken surfer.

Gareth Horner, RNLI 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.

“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”.

Lifeguards were not patrolling the area – they only do so between March and September. There are “clear signs” indicating the fact they are not present at the beach.

However, a spokeswoman for the RNLI said that lifeboats “on-call 24/7” can launch within 10 minutes all year round.

She also confirmed a review of the beach’s lifeguard cover during the autumn and winter holidays would be undertaken.

The Torbay Surf Lifesaving Club said two of its lifeguards on the beach for a surf “saw that something wasn’t right” and took part in the rescue efforts, along with paramedics and the coastguard.