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Man drowned after being swept out to sea by a strong wave in Sri Lanka

Andrew Critchett was wading in the sea with friends when they were swept off their feet by a strong wave.

A man drowned after he was swept out to sea by a strong wave in Sri Lanka, an inquest has concluded.

Andrew Critchett, from Rhos on Sea, was wading in the sea with two friends when they were swept off their feet by a strong wave and then struggled against a riptide.

Mr Critchett was a strong swimmer, but as he was swept out he shouted to his friend Tommy Robinson: “I think I’m in a spot of bother.”

Mr Robinson, from Wigan, managed to drag himself ashore while hotel staff and local people tried to locate Mr Critchett.

His body was eventually found 15 metres offshore but despite desperate efforts by another friend, policeman Zane Jenkins, and a nurse, he could not be revived.

Mr Critchett, 48, and his wife were staying at the Centara Ceysands Resort and Spa on the Bentota Peninsula in October 2018 with Mr Robinson and his wife.

Mr Critchett's wife described him as 'best husband, best father, stepfather and grandpa you could ask for'

They became friendly with Mr Jenkins and his partner, who were about to return home the following day when the three men decided to go for a walk in the sea.

The water was described as “choppy” and a red flag, indicating that anyone entering the water did so at their own risk, was flying, the hearing heard.

A particularly strong wave took them by surprise and they were pulled under. They laughed about it but then Mr Critchett, an experienced diver, appeared to be in trouble.

While his wife ran to the hotel for help, the two men tried to reach him, and very quickly hotel staff arrived.

“The waves had dramatically got worse and the staff and locals were struggling", said Mr Jenkins.

After he had been pulled ashore Mr Robinson said: “I was so close to getting to him.”

Mrs Critchett was not present at the inquest but in a statement said locals had said her husband was the third person to be pulled out of the water in the same area.

Members of Mr Critchett's family, who did not want to be named, told the inquest they were concerned there were no lifeguards on duty and no safety equipment, and the hotel did not have a defibrillator.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, John Gittins, coroner for North Wales East and Central, said his jurisdiction did not extend to making any recommendations in such situations, but added: “Travel agents and holiday companies do carry out assessments and inspections and these things can be highlighted.”

Mrs Critchett said of her husband after his death: "Andy was the best husband, best father, stepfather and grandpa you could ask for.

"He would help anyone and was so loved. As a family we have received hundreds of messages since the news of his death.

"We had so much planned. We had planned to go to New York in January for his 50th birthday, and in Sri Lanka we were having a wonderful time until last Thursday."

Mrs Critchett added: "Andy and I had 26 wonderful years together, we were so very happy, and I will carry that with me always.

"He was taken from me in the most horrific circumstances imaginable. He was my best friend, my life and my world. I will never get over it."

A convoy of bikers accompanied the hearse during keen motorcyclist Mr Critchett's funeral at St Paul's Church in Colwyn Bay.