A major operation was put into operation as darkness fell tonight to search for a man believed to have entered the water from the Penarth foreshore – a couple of hundred yards South of the lifeboat station
The man was said to have been wearing dark clothing and it’s believed had been spotted by an angler fishing on from the shore . The eyewitness said the man had “walked into the water “.
The smaller of Penarth’s two lifeboats – the “Connie Dains” was launched down the dogleg slipway with her tractor using headlights to maneuver her into the water. Her crew of three climbed aboard once she was afloat.
The Connie Dains was followed almost immediately by the bigger Atlantic 85 Maureen Lilian which was launched from the main lifeboat slipway as Penarth coastguard arrived at the scene.
The two lifeboats then carried out a co-ordinated grid search using powerful searchlights to comb the waters between Penarth Head and a point on the foreshore just about in line with Forrest Road.
Later the search area was extended as far north as the mouth of the River Rhymney after calculations estimated it might have been possible for the missing man to have been swept that far up stream in the flood tide.
The big ocean-going Barry Dock Lifeboat arrived at the scene shortly afterwards and also participated in the co-ordinated grid search. The lifeboat crews and coastguards were all using tidal calculations to try to estimate the position of the casualty as the tide turned.
Sea conditions were good and the air temperature warm for the time of year but the low sea temperature in January makes it essential that anyone in the water is located as quickly as possible to reduce exposure time.
A coastguard helicopter equipped with infra-red heat-detecting equipment arrived on the scene to scan the shoreline and use its powerful searchlights to assist the crews on the water. It completed several circuits of the sea front.
After searching for more than 2 hours no trace had been found of the missing man . The search stood-down at around 20:00
During the operation one Penarth lifeboat was diverted to rescue one two groups of people cut of by the tide near Sully. The second group was winched to safety by the coastguard helicopter.