A GRANDFATHER was swept out to sea while he was scattering the ashes of his recently deceased sister.
Shane Galliers, 51, met family members on a beach to say goodbye to his sister, Michelle Galliers, who died in November.
After waiting for the tide to go out, each of them scattered their own pot of Ms Galliers’ ashes on the beach near Tintagel, Cornwall, on Saturday afternoon.
Mr Galliers, who was wearing thick clothing to keep warm, decided to walk further away to say a personal goodbye to his sister.
The father-of-one was then hit by a large wave which dragged him into the water and his heavy clothing hampered his efforts to swim.
Another relative attempted to help Mr Galliers, from Launceston, Cornwall, but he also fell into the water and found himself in difficulty. While he was able to get back to the bank, Mr Galliers disappeared from sight and has not been seen since.
His heartbroken mother, Patricia Howells, yesterday spoke of her devastation at losing a second child after rescue efforts were halted.
Ms Howells said: “The family were all meeting at Trebarwith Strand so we could scatter the ashes of my daughter, Shane’s sister, who died a couple of months back.
“We were waiting for the tide to go out quite a bit as the sea was very rough. In the end we decided it would be safer to go up to a little river on the beach and do it there.
“Michelle died a couple of months ago and she wanted her ashes scattered on the beach as that’s where her grandmother and uncle are.
“It was where she grew up – we always used to come down to this beach – so she wanted her ashes scattered there.
“For some reason Shane decided he wanted to go the other side of the river to all of us. I think he wanted some space to have one last chat with his sister. We didn’t even know he was there.
“He just wanted a private moment with his sister but he slipped. The first we knew about it was when someone shouted ‘there’s someone in the water’.
“We didn’t think it could be any of our group as we were all together, but then we realised it was Shane. His sister’s husband tried to reach him but then he ended up slipping in too. Luckily the tide dragged him the other way and he was able to get out.
“Unfortunately Shane just couldn’t stay afloat. It was so cold, we were very well wrapped up. He was wearing very thick clothes – they just dragged him down. It’s all a very big shock for all of us.
“First I lost my daughter and now I have lost my son, it’s so difficult to come to terms with.”
Coastguards scoured the area yesterday morning but hours later called off the search. A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said that officers were called at about 5pm on Saturday after reports that a man had fallen into the sea.
The spokesman said: “At the time he was spreading ashes when a large wave washed him into the sea. Despite treacherous conditions with gale force winds and heavy seas, two other members of the group that he was with went into the sea in an attempt to rescue him but were unsuccessful.”