Capsized kayaker, 20, found dead in surf
Coastguards searched in vain for a young kayaker who died as he tried to swim ashore from his capsized boat.
The man had been paddling with a friend off the East Devon coast, but failed to make land and was last seen in the surf before disappearing.
He was later found in the shallow water opposite the seafront and brought ashore and taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
A team of ten RNLI volunteers spent an hour-and-a-half combing the beach and sea at Budleigh Salterton in a desperate and "intensive" search on Wednesday.
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Police later confirmed that a 20-year-old Exmouth man had died after trying to swim to shore as dusk fell.
The search-and-rescue operation was launched at around 7.15pm in near complete darkness. The Exmouth RNLI team, which was on board the all-weather lifeboat on a training exercise nearby, was immediately dispatched to the scene. Arriving within minutes, it was joined by the in-shore lifeboat.
Both vessels launched a parallel search of the coast close to the beach in one-metre-high swell.
Sidmouth lifeboat also joined the operation to search the water to the east.
Paul Howell, station officer for Exmouth Coastguard, which has an extensive medical team including paramedics and nurses, said volunteers were on the scene "within seconds".
He added: "The casualty was given the very best care and assistance before being transferred to hospital.
"Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends at this very distressing time."
Mr Howell described how four teams of coastguard officers were deployed to complete a thorough search of the shore and surrounding water.
"After approximately an hour-and-a-half of intensive searching by all search and rescue units, the casualty was eventually located in the rough rolling surf directly off the seafront and brought ashore to the beach," he said.
The coastguard helicopter from Portland landed on the beach and the kayaker was airlifted to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Next of kin have been informed.
It is understood the kayaker was wearing a wetsuit but did not have a lifejacket on.
Member of Sidmouth lifeboat team Mark Roden added: "We were tasked at just before 9pm to search the water from Black Head, which is about half way between Sidmouth and Otter Ledge, in case the casualty had drifted that far.
"As well as search lights, the boat is fitted with night sights which pick up heat in order to detect someone who may be in the water.
"We had only been on the water ten minutes when the casualty was located."