Tributes to tragic angler

A DISTRAUGHT dad has told of the horror moment he learned his beloved son had died after a freak wave washed him out to sea.

Paul Turner, 33, died in hospital shortly after being knocked over by the 15ft wave which engulfed him and fellow angler and father-in-law Ronnie Ward.

Paul’s death has left his wife Lana, 27, and six children devastated.

His heartbroken father, John Turner, a health and safety worker at Hartlepool Power Station, described the moment he found out about the tragic accident which claimed the life of his “one in a billion” son.

John, 58, said Paul had enjoyed angling since he was a young boy, having picked up a love of the hobby from him.

He said Paul, a former Dene House school pupil and contractor utility worker, and Ronnie had gone fishing on Horden beach last Saturday, just as they had done for years.

John, who is married to Margaret, 58, said: “There’s a ridge where fishermen go and they were on the Horden side of it.
“They noticed some fisherman on the right-hand side were getting more of a bite and decided to head there.

“Paul got down on the shore and onto the ridge when this wave, they say was 10ft to 15ft, pulled him in.”

Ronnie was also knocked into the water, and John said Ronnie thought he grabbed Paul’s body, but the object turned out to be a tree.

The pair were wenched from the sea, Paul, of Horden, by RAF Boulmer’s helicopter and Ronnie by the Durham Police helicopter.

Ronnie later was discharged from hospital after suffering from hypothermia.

John, also dad to Louise Rollins, 35, and 27-year-old Katie Turner, added that around 6.30pm, two police officers knocked on his door.

The police rushed John and Margaret to Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital, where Paul was.

“I heard them on the radio summoning a car to get us to hospital faster and then I knew it was serious,” added John.

John and Margaret, of Hale Rise, Peterlee, rushed to the hospital’s family room, where Lana was.

A consultant told them Paul’s kidneys and lungs had failed and he would return in half an hour.

“He came back and said ‘I’m sorry, he’s gone’,” said John.

“Lana and Margaret were uncontrollable.”

Lana broke the heartbreaking news to children Kira, 10, Nadine, nine and Scott, seven, from a previous relationship who Paul treated as his own, and Shay, five, Leon, four and one-year-old Evie-Rae, who he fathered.

Grandfather-of-10 John said: “Fishermen take chances.

“There was a one-in-a-billion chance of that wave arriving while he was changing position.”

John, who has vowed never to go fishing again after what happened, said Paul did own a flotation device, but it is in John’s garage, and fishermen prefer to wear warmer garments in cold weather.

He added: “They certainly took a good lad away - he was one of the best and he idolised those kids.”

Margaret added: “Paul was a proper family man.

“If wasn’t for the grandkids, the Christmas decorations would be down.

“Christmas will never ever be the same.”

Sister Katie said: “We used to be like two peas in a pod.”

Paul, Lana and Ronnie appeared in the Mail in 2007, when son Shay was born unexpectedly in the back of Ronnie’s car on the A1086 at Blackhall on the way to hospital.

Paul’s funeral will take place at St Mary’s Church, in Blackhills Terrace, Horden, at 2pm on Thursday, December 27, followed by cremation at Durham Crematorium and a wake at Horden Comrades Club.