A MAN has told how he fought to save the life of a windsurfer who got into trouble off the East Cleveland coast.

The 72-year-old was rescued from the water, but died later in hospital.

Terry Bennions, 52, a kitesurfer and firefighter, had known the unnamed 72-year-old for more than ten years.

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The man, who has yet to be formally identified but is believed to be from the Middlesbrough area, had got into difficulties off Redcar beach at about 2.15pm on Friday, May 9.

He was about three-quarters-of-a-mile out to sea and was missing for about 20 minutes before being discovered.

Understood to be a father, he was taken to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, but the RNLI, who were called to the scene and gave First Aid on the shore, confirmed he had died yesterday (Saturday.)

Mr Bennions, of Redcar, said the man was well-known in the windsurfing community.

“He was a very nice man, a gentleman," he said. "He was quiet, just a really nice guy. I’d just like to send my condolences to the family. I know all the windsurfing community feel the same.”

Mr Bennions said when he got to Redcar beach there was concern from other windsurfers because they could only see the mast, not the windsurfer.

He said: “I went out straightaway and I found his board, but he wasn’t there. I was looking around for a while until I eventually found him. I managed to get him on the board and I gave him some CPR. I put him across my knee and held him with one hand while I controlled the kite with the other.

“I don’t know how long it took me to get back, maybe ten or 15 minutes. I was working on him all the time. The lifeboatmen were there on the shore and they started resuscitating him straight away.

“The police called me to tell me the bad news the next day. It’s was awful, such a tragedy.”

Redcar lifeboats, as well as boats from the Teesside offshore wind farm, were launched during the rescue.

A spokesman for the RNLI said: “It is with great sadness that we have learned that the windsurfer rescued has not survived his ordeal. Our condolences go to his family and friends and our thoughts are with everyone involved in this sad event.”

He added: “What Mr Bennions did was heroic and very difficult. He was extremely courageous.”