An angler who lost his life in a fishing accident off the Lizard Peninsula has been described by his grieving wife as her “rock.”
Elizabeth Newton was paying tribute to her husband Chris a week after he was pulled from the sea approximately half a mile off Lankidden.
Mr Newton, who would have celebrated his 58th birthday this Sunday, had gone out on his boat, which he had recently bought with a friend, at lunchtime last Wednesday.
The alarm was raised at 7pm that evening, after Mr Newton failed to return as expected at 4pm.
A search began on the water by the Lizard lifeboat and nearby vessels, including Swedish survey vessel Triad and Cadgwith fishing boat Scorpio, from Black Head back toward Cadgwith, while coastguard rescue teams from Porthoustock, Mullion and the south Cornwall sector manager searched the coastline.
At just before 8pm Triad reported that they had found Mr Newton, who was in urgent need of medical attention.
He was transferred to the lifeboat and flown from there to Truro’s Royal Cornwall Hospital by a search and rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose, but doctors were unable to save him.
Falmouth coastguard watch manager Richy Williams said at the time that Mr Newton had been in the cold water “for quite some time.”
Speaking from their Ruan Minor home yesterday (Tuesday), Mrs Newton said: “Fishing was his passion. He wasn’t a novice – he knew what he was doing.
“I loved him so dearly. There will be a big gap now. He really was my rock.”
Mr Newton was found wearing his life jacket and appropriate clothing, but was without a radio, which meant he was unable to call for help.
Mrs Newton said she was “so grateful” that her husband was with friends from the Lizard lifeboat crew in the moments before he died.
“I would just like to thank everybody – the Lizard lifeboat crew, the Triad that found him, the helicopter, everybody at Treliske that tried to save him and all the people that have been so generous and kind to me and our family since this tragic accident,” she said.
In particular Mrs Newton thanked the two friends who took her to the hospital last Wednesday and stayed with her throughout, plus everyone else who had sent cards and given support.
“I’ve had such love, comfort and friendship from everybody – I’m just overwhelmed,” she added.
Before retiring to Cornwall Mr Newton had a brilliant career as a zoologist, specialising in fish.
He had previously held the post of director of environment at States of Jersey Environment Agency, and had also worked for the Environment Agency in Bristol and London.
Mr and Mrs Newton came to live in Cornwall four years ago, after holidaying in the county for many years, and they have Cornish relatives.
“He has had a good four years here. Four happy years with the garden and the dog,” said Mrs Newton.
The couple have two children and five grandchildren, who he had been looking forward to seeing after Christmas.
Mr Newton was keen to pass his skills onto the next generation and used to organise fishing trips for youngsters in the area.
He was also secretary of the Helston and District Sea Angling Club and regularly went fishing with the chairman of the group, Steve Holyer, steering the boat for the blind skipper.
Describing his friend’s death as “a terrible shock”, Mr Holyer said: “He was a very talented fisherman. Everything he did was done enthusiastically and he was a very skilled man. Whenever he did something it was done to perfection.”
Mr Newton was the winner of this year’s Thursday night fishing contests in Cadgwith over the summer.
Friday’s Lizard Lifeboat Station carolaire was held in memory of Mr Newton and a minute’s silence was marked at the switching on of Cadgwith’s Christmas lights on Saturday.
Funeral arrangements cannot be made until certain procedures have been carried out, but details will be announced once they have been finalised.
A post-mortem was due to be carried out yesterday. Police are treating the death as “unexplained” but not suspicious and are preparing a report for the coroner.
Wreckage of Mr Newton’s boat was found near Eddystone Reef near Plymouth on Monday, five days after the accident.