Council leader Warren Morgan has praised the outstanding efforts of emergency services, the council’s seafront team and members of the Brighton Surf Club in trying to rescue a drowning man near the Peace Statue on Hove seafront.
He has also called on residents and visitors to stay out of the sea at this time of year because of very low water temperatures.
Councillor Morgan said: “We are all immensely saddened by the drowning of a man off our seafront on Saturday, and our hearts go out to the man’s family and friends.
“Despite very cold water conditions a large number of people did their absolute best to try and save him, and I would like to thank everyone who was involved.
“Our seafront team and the Brighton Surf Club team did an outstanding job coordinating the rescue attempt with excellent support from the RNLI boat, search and rescue helicopter and coastguard support units.
“I would particularly like to thank the Brighton Surf Club team for their efforts. They were under no obligation to help out, but they still spent nearly three hours continuously diving into the cold water to locate and try to rescue a person in need.
“Our advice to residents and visitors is simple: please stay out of the sea at this time of year.
“The very low water temperature means even strong swimmers can be at risk of hypothermia within seconds, even in good weather conditions.
“We would also underline that it is never safe to go into the sea after drinking alcohol. Even a small amount of alcohol speeds up the onset of hypothermia in cold water, and reduces your capabilities.
“Our lifeguard service operates from May to September and does a magnificent job. Our seafront is a great place to be, and it is safe for people to swim in the sea during this period as long as they show common sense and follow the sea safety advice on our website.
“Despite its tragic outcome I hope this incident will help reassure residents and visitors that we and our colleagues in the emergency services really do go the extra mile to help people in need.
“We are acutely aware of the stresses experienced by the people involved in this rescue attempt, and we are offering our staff appropriate help and support.”
See here for further information about sea safety.