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Dad desperately tried to save man, 22, who drowned off Crosby beach

By Benjamin Roberts-Haslam

A dad-of-two has opened up about his experience when he tried to save a man who tragically drowned in the sea at Crosby beach.

A 22-year-old was swept out at sea when he and his friends were visiting the Merseyside beach on a warm evening in July last year, with people swimming out to try and save them. James Pugh was one of those who tried to help, with the business owner pulling the young man to shore in hope of saving his life.

Since the tragic incident that also left a 21-year-old in hospital, the 38-year-old from Crosby has spoken to the ECHO to issue a warning to people ahead of the warmer days and longer nights returning in the hope that no one else will lose their life in open water. Since the death, James has been left traumatised himself, struggling to even go near the sea as he continues to deal with the mental struggles.

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He has opened up about how he hasn't been close to the sea since the fateful night on July 20, 2021. He told the ECHO: "As the months have gone on I have struggled mentally with it.

"I've had a few episodes where the guy has been shouting me, I've woken up and thought he was shouting me from downstairs and then I've had a nightmare where he's been swimming after me in the water and all I can see is his face in my sleep. I've struggled quite a bit.

"This is something I want to raise awareness about. The weather is getting nicer now so I know people are going to go in the sea and have a paddle. I just want people to be cautious. As we approach the anniversary, I don't want to wait until then to raise awareness. Obviously, it's going to be a big thing on the anniversary and I'm going to try and go down to the beach."

James Pugh, 38, helped drag Hamza Mansoor from the water at Crosby beach (James Pugh)

James found himself struggling to take his two daughters, Caitlin, nine, and Amelia, seven, swimming at the local swimming baths with him. The dad said he had to leave early because he was so anxious with his children in the water. He said: "It has now affected me where I feel like I can't have a paddle in the sea with my kids and that's something I need to get over.

"It's a place I like to go because it's a calm place. I used to love running on the sand dunes but it's somewhere now I don't want to go. I have been to the beach but I haven't been anywhere close to the water. I just can't bring myself to do it. It's now affecting me when I take my two children to the swimming baths as well. I'm dead anxious all the time."

James, who owns a maintenance company, added: "I think with the first anniversary approaching I want to get the message out now because I know that people are going to start going into open water as the weather gets better. People like having a paddle with their kids and a lot of people do take it on board but then you have some that don't."

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Dive Deeper:
Traumatised dad can no longer go near sea after failing to save drowning man
James Pugh, 38, dived into the sea off Crosby beach, Merseyside, to try and save student Hamza Mansoor, 22, after…
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Lawyer Louise Atkinson blacked out and fainted after jab, an inquest into her nine-month-old Eleanor heard
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Nine-month-old baby Eleanor drowned in three inches of water after mum Louise blacked out
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One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
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Eleanor Atkinson’s death ruled as ‘tragic accident’ as inquest hears Covid vaccine may have contributed to mother’s blackout
Get all your news in one place