Icy waters claimed life of sailor Kristian Selman: INQUEST
The shock and exertion of swimming after a loose dinghy in the cold waters of the Helford River directly led to a sailor’s death, an inquest heard this week.
Kristian Selman, the son of well-known Falmouth sailmaker Patrick Selman, was only wearing a pair of shorts when he plunged into the chilly water to fetch his tender at about 6.30pm on July 11 last year.
The wind was brisk on that day. Katie Weston, who had earlier spotted Kristian gathering wood on Grebe Beach while waiting for a group of friends to arrive for a party, said she had seen a Laser sailing dinghy capsized “so the wind must have been quite strong.”
No one saw 36-year-old Kristian enter the water and police officers would later find lengths of smouldering copper wire, being stripped for sale, alongside a pile of dry clothes onboard his empty yacht the New Moon.
“He left in a hurry,” Detective Constable Rick Milburn, from Falmouth CID, told the inquest.
One of the crew onboard the yacht Origin, which was making her way to a race start at the mouth of the river, reported seeing someone in the water but it was race spectator Helen Trelease who last saw Kristian alive.
Mrs Trelease was walking along the river bank with her friend, her friend’s 14-year-old daughter and three dogs in tow when she heard indistinct shouting coming from the water.
“I thought that I heard someone shouting but it was difficult to pinpoint where it was coming from,” she said.
After making her way to a “local fishing rock,” she spotted a head in the water more than 100 feet away using her binoculars. She called 999 just after 6.40pm, when the inshore lifeboat and search and rescue helicopter were tasked to the scene.
Kristian “kept going down and then coming back up again,” according to Mrs Trelease.
“I heard shouting two or three minutes before I spotted him and then I had him in sight for about five minutes,” she said. Police divers recovered Kristian’s body near Durgan four days later.
His father, Falmouth sailmaker Patrick Selman – who has a decade’s experience as lifeboat crew - told the inquest: “It seems to be like I thought, which is, he dived off the boat to get his dinghy. I think the wind was so severe that the dinghy was going away faster than he could get it and he was exhausted and the cold got him. Friends of mine that have been on the lifeboat, they all came up with the same opinion – that the cold got him and the exhaustion. Your heart stops you see.”
Deputy coroner Andrew Cox gave the cause of death as immersion, as there was not enough medical evidence to support a verdict of death by drowning.
Although Kristian had a history of mental health issues, including that he was being “watched by helicopters” and surrounded by aliens, Mr Cox found no reason to suspect suicide. Toxicology screens for alcohol and drugs all came back negative. He recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Read more about Kristian below