Devastated family appeal for heroic surfer to come forward after man dies in jet ski tragedy

The tragedy unfolded near the Groyne, in South Shields.

The tragedy unfolded near the Groyne, in South Shields.

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The devastated niece of a man who died in a jet ski tragedy is calling for a surfer who risked his life to save him to come forward

A man named locally as Billy Carruthers died after an incident off the coast of South Shields on Saturday afternoon.

The tragedy struck at about 3pm on Saturday near Herd Sands, by the Groyne, with numerous 999 calls from people who saw the man get into difficulties.

Tynemouth RNLI responded immediately and administered CPR, while the ambulance service and the Great North Air Ambulance were also called to the scene.

Mr Carruthers' niece, Beth, said the family had been on an outing when tragedy struck.

She said: "He went out on the jet ski, and it broke down in the middle of the sea.

"He's so strong and thought he could swim back to the shore. He must have panicked, and didn't make it back.

"We're all totally devastated and it was so unexpected.

"It hasn't sunk in for any of us yet - he was the strongest person ever.

"We're a big family and everyone is just in shock."

Beth now hopes to find the heroic surfer who tried to save Billy so that the family can thank him.

She added: "A surfer tried to help him and we want to find him. It's my nana's wish.

"A few others tried to swim out to help him, but the surfer managed to get to him.

"We don't know who he is, but we just want to know if Billy said anything.

"My nana just wants her closure and we all want to thank him for what he did.

"He risked his life and we really appreciate that."

Are you the surfer, or do you know him? If so, please contact the newsdesk on 0191 501 7477.