Heroic Littlehampton jet-skier saved man's life at sea after kayak sank near Selsey

“It was so lucky I saw a pair of arms in the air — it could have been two fatals.”

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 3:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 3:44 pm

A jet-skier who saved a stranded kayaker in the sea at Selsey has spoken out about his heroic act.

A body, believed to be that of 33-year-old Shane Davies, was found in the Pagham/Selsey beach area on Sunday morning (June 13), a day after his kayak sank, 150 meters off the Outer Mulberry.

If it wasn’t for Jack Williams, from Littlehampton, two lives could have been lost.

If it wasn’t for Jack Williams, from Littlehampton, two lives could have been lost at sea on Saturday
If it wasn’t for Jack Williams, from Littlehampton, two lives could have been lost at sea on Saturday

The 28-year-old was on his way home with four of his, Littlehampton jet ski club, friends when he spotted someone was in trouble in the water.

He said: “We went out on a jet ski to Portsmouth for some lunch. On the way back, we all stopped at Selsey.

“I saw these pair of arms about half a mile out at sea. I thought he can’t be swimming.

“I went over and he couldn’t talk, he was blue. He struggled to get on the jet ski so I picked him up and pulled him on it.”

The Coastguard helicopter Rescue 175 joined the search for Shane Davies, which involved multiple lifeboat crews and a police drone

The man was able to tell Jack that the kayak had sunk and his friend, Shane, was somewhere nearby.

The friends, who were not living locally, had entered the water wearing life-jackets but drifted apart while trying to swim ashore.

“We searched and couldn’t find a thing,” Jack said. “We called the lifeguard and the RNLI. We had no fuel left, so we would run out ourselves. It was devastating to leave but we had to.”

The UK Coastguard requested a launch at 5pm on Saturday after receiving reports that a kayaker was missing between Selsey Lifeboat station and Pagham. The Coastguard helicopter Rescue 175 joined the search, which involved multiple lifeboat crews and a police drone.

Jack (middle) was on his way home with four of his, Littlehampton jet ski club, friends when he spotted someone was in trouble in the water. Pictured with Jack are Ben Smart, Tony Watts, Keith waters and Gary Pinkney

The search continued throughout the night. Sussex Police also issued an appeal for help in finding Shane Davies.

"Just after 7am this morning, we’re sad to say that a fishing vessel off Selsey Bill located a body in the water which is believed to be the missing kayaker," a Coastguard spokesperson said.

"Our thoughts are with his friends, family and loved ones at this extremely difficult time.

"Thank you to all the assets involved in assisting us in the search, especially the jet-skier and the fishing vessel and all members of the public that helped search and keep an eye out for him."

Next of kin have been informed and the matter has been passed to the Coroner’s Office.

Jack said he and his friends go out on their jet skis every Saturday, normally to the Isle or Wight.

He said he had ‘never experienced’ an emergency incident like this.

He added: “We’ve helped people down the river at Littlehampton after their boats have broken down but nothing like this.

“People need to respect the water. I’m a water baby. I know how bad it is. When Selsey tide gets up, it’s very rough.”

Jack was due to be reunited with the man he saved on Tuesday.

“He’s coming to say thank you later this evening,” he said. “That’s quite nice that I can see how he’s doing.”