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Hero died saving suicidal friend

What Happened
Person tired/overwhelmed by water
What Caused
Human factor
Casualty type/Qty
Causal Factors
Adverse current
Injury Details
Accident suspected

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Description of Incident
A MAN who drowned while trying to save a friend made the "ultimate sacrifice", a coroner said yesterday.

Sean Darren Griffiths, 40, died after jumping into the River Torridge to save Scott Mason, a Barnstaple inquest was told.

Sean Griffiths with fiancée Emma Trott and their baby son Carl. Sean's family said he 'would do anything for anybody'

Sean Griffiths with fiancée Emma Trott and their baby son Carl. Sean's family said he 'would do anything for anybody'

Mr Griffiths, of Solomon Drive, Bideford, died on February 22 at North Devon District Hospital, almost four days after the attempted rescue.

He had been dragged from the river by Bideford PC Jeanne Hellyer, who had been flagged down by witness Carolyn Rolls.

Miss Rolls said she and her partner had seen two men heading towards the river at 12.20am on February 19. She told the inquest one of the men, later identified as Scott Mason, was saying he was going to end it all. He had lost his girlfriend and had nothing to live for.

Mr Griffiths said he was stupid and if he did it, he would have to jump in after him, she said.

"He was trying to calm him down and saying it won't change anything, but he kept saying he intended to jump in the river," she added.

He then disappeared from her view and the couple ran to the river to find both men in the water. She said it was difficult to see but one man had been washed up against the wall by the current.

"We were talking to him, telling him to hang on. He was not responding," she said.

She told the inquest her partner ran and got a life ring and threw it to him.

PC Andrew Warner said in a statement that the life ring had been thrown within an arm's reach of the second man (Mason).

He said: "I shouted to him to grab on but he objected to this. I threw it to him again and it landed in arm's reach but he continued to swim to the middle of the river. He was being very vocal and was beginning to get caught in the flow."

Mr Mason was later rescued by the inshore lifeboat. Mr Griffiths was unresponsive, thought to be unconscious. He was dragged to shore by PC Hellyer and taken to North Devon District Hospital.

Coroner Elizabeth Earland recorded a verdict of accidental death at yesterday's inquest. She said of Mr Griffiths: "He meant well but suffered the ultimate sacrifice in trying to save his friend's life."

Mr Griffiths left behind his fiancée, Emma Trott, and their 11-month-old son, Carl, as well as two children from previous relationships, Chloe, nine, and Corey, 13.

At the time of the tragic accident, his sister, Leigh Loder, paid tribute to him, saying: "He would do anything to help anybody. We're really proud of him."

Mr Griffiths was born in Harlow, Essex, but grew up in North Wales and travelled before settling down in Bideford. His sister and mother also moved down to the area.

The inquest was told Mr Mason had been elusive since the incident and the coroner's office had been unable to contact him.
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