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Gower rescue bid ended in heartbreak as brother drowned

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 14, 2012

Sam Capper

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A DAD-TO-BE who dived into the sea to save his younger brother's life was eventually forced to release him from his grasp as they struggled to stay afloat — after realising that if he didn't their mother would have lost two sons instead of one, an inquest was told.

Royal Navy officer Lewis Hunt, aged 21, jumped into the water at Bluepool near Llanmadoc after his 15-year-old brother Sam Capper was swept into water by a large wave while they were fishing there on August 1.

The brothers from Birkenhead had visited the same spot all week, and were on the last day of their holiday.

Their were accompanied by two friends, Adam Taylor and Jordan Adams, who had raised the alarm with emergency services, leading to a rescue operation involving several lifeboat crews, including the Burry Port inshore lifeboat and a rescue helicopter.

The brothers were pulled from the water by lifeboat crews and attended to by paramedics. Sam, who hoped to follow a career in accounting, was airlifted to Morriston Hospital where he was later declared dead.

An inquest into the death of Sam Capper heard from DC Emma Hughes, who said although the pair were step-brothers, "they considered themselves blood brothers''.

And she added: "Adam said 'look at the size of that wave', and as Lewis looked a huge wave broke next to Sam and engulfed Sam, pulling him into the water.

"Lewis said all he could see was Sam's feet. Sam could swim but not strongly. Lewis did not see him resurface and jumped in.

"Lewis swam towards his brother and kept them both afloat. He attempted to reassure Sam who he could see was clearly terrified.

"Lewis battled to keep them afloat for half an hour. Sam could not speak because he was swallowing water. He became fatigued keeping them afloat.

"Lewis believed at this point they were both going to drown and realised there was nothing he could do to save his brother, and if he wanted to save himself that he had to let his brother go.

"Lewis stated that his girlfriend Jennifer was 20 weeks pregnant at the time, and he imagined his own son growing up without a father, and also imagined his own mother losing two sons, and took the decision to let Sam go."

The inquest heard from Singleton Hospital's consultant pathologist Dr Namor Williams, who said the cause of death was immersion in water.

Coroner Philip Roger, who said Lewis Hunt had done his very best to save his brother, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Retired police officer Charles Gabe, who had witnessed the rescue attempt, added: "I was impressed with the speed and co-ordination of all those involved in the rescue attempt and I am sure they would have been devastated by the tragic outcome. However, had they not been so professional the tragedy would have been far worse."

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