Father risks his life to save man in sea

AN Exmouth father-of-seven has been hailed a hero after risking his life to save a man from drowning off Orcombe Point.

David Freer, 46, of Denmark Road, the manager of Exmouth Boots, was walking with his wife, Angie, and their family on Thursday evening when he spotted a woman at Rodney Point waving frantically, writes David Beasley.

“She was distressed,” said David. “I turned and saw a man in the water, about 25 feet out, thrashing about. Her husband had dived in after their dog. His head was bobbing up and down and he was white as sheet. It was clear he was struggling and had had enough.”

Lying flat on a ledge on the cliff as water sprayed over his head, David, a special constable, waited for the chance to dive in.

“For split a second, I thought, ‘do I really want to risk stranding both of us?’ Then instinct just kicked in.”

Three other beachgoers, a Royal Marine, an Air Sea Rescue officer and a care worker, also dived in.

But David fought against the waves and the danger of being smashed against rocks to reach the man, dragging him onto Maer Rocks and putting him into the recovery position.

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Care worker Peter Taylor, 50, said: “David was the hero of the day - he saved the man, who had blood on his face and was in a terrible state.

“None of us would have got to him in time.

“The man must have been 18 stone. I don’t know how David managed it. The fact David is so well built saved them both.”

The RNLI, which had been called, dropped the rescued man on the beach at the end of Queen’s Drive.

The man, believed to be in his 40s and local, was then taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and discharged the following day.

David added: “I was worried that both of us were going to be washed out to sea - and I was afraid of letting people down after getting so far.

“But once I was in the water, I absolutely knew what I wanted to do.”

The dog managed to get back to the shore to survive its own ordeal.