A man suspected of stealing a bicycle has died while trying to evade police in Plymouth Harbour after getting stuck between a disused fishing boat and the harbour wall.
Devon & Cornwall Police were responding to reports of a theft of a bike yesterday from Citadel Road East at around 6.10am.
They found the suspect but he tried to escape, heading into Sutton Wharf. According to police, witnesses saw him enter the water close to The China House pub at 6.30am.
Police say he then became trapped between the harbour wall and a disused fishing vessel, with crew from two lifeboats and the fire service rescue team unable to reach him due to the location.
The body of the man, whose identity police say they are trying to establish, was recovered by the Royal Navy dive team.
The incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, as is standard in cases where someone dies during an incident in which police are involved.
John O’Toole, who lives on the harbour, told the BBC, whose article includes an image of a bicycle being recovered from the water, that police officers had attempted to move the trawler away from the wall.
"I said, 'you'll never budge that trawler'. It's been here as long as I have, which is since 2007.
"It never floats, even at high tide."
Witness Drew Staton, who lives on a nearby boat, described the efforts made to sae the man.
“I heard the chap shouting in pain that he was freezing,” he said, quoted in the Plymouth Herald.
“The rescuers were trying to convince him to try to move as they couldn’t get to him.
“They were talking to him trying to keep him conscious, calling his name but to no avail.
“The large lifeboat tried twice to tow the fishing boat off the wall but both times the line snapped.
“They then tried to push the boat using the lifeboat bow but to no avail, it just smashed through the fishing boat’s rotten topsides.”
He said he believes the man died a short time after that attempt to save him.
“It was obvious by then he had perished as everything went quiet and there was no urgency from the RNLI.
“The divers eventually arrived and retrieved the body.
“The RNLI did absolutely everything they could possibly do to save him,” he added.
We regret we are unable to accept comments on this article.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.