Fears for drunken man in cliff-top Sidmouth drama

PUBLISHED: 18:00 29 April 2011

CLIFF-TOP DRAMA: Shocked onlookers watched on as a man situated himself perilously close to a massive drop.

CLIFF-TOP DRAMA: Shocked onlookers watched on as a man situated himself perilously close to a massive drop.

Archant

SHOCKED onlookers feared a drunken man would plummet to his death as cliff-top drama gripped Sidmouth on Tuesday night.

SHOCKED onlookers feared a drunken man would plummet to his death as cliff-top drama gripped Sidmouth on Tuesday night.

Police negotiators raced to The Ham as the 21-year-old perched precariously on the crumbling edge of Pennington Point in a tense stand-off that lasted for hours.

Friends of the man, who the Herald understands was recently released from prison, dialled 999 at around 5pm then watched on nervously as he repeatedly dangled himself over the 100ft drop - hanging on only to an unstable fence.

Sidmouth seafront came to a standstill as scores of people watched the drama unfold.

The police helicopter, paramedics and Beer Coastguard were all scrambled to the incident.

The Ham, Alma Bridge and steps leading to Cliff Road were cordoned off as specialist negotiators worked to prevent a tragedy.

A Coastguard spokesperson said rescuers were tasked to the scene after police expressed fears for a man who was “a potential suicide risk” near the cliff edge after being spotted “acting in an odd way”.

“He was violently shaking the fence to keep people away, then held on to the loose post and dangled his legs, then body, over the edge,” said one onlooker.

“I thought he was going to jump,” added businessman Mike Welch.

“Shaking the fence made the cliff crack,” said 21-year-old witness Elliott Beach.

One pal of the man at the scene said she didn’t think he would jump - but feared he would fall due to the fragile state of Pennington Point.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesperson said: “After several hours the 21-year-old man, who was heavily under the influence of alcohol, was brought down from the crumbling cliff edge without incident.

“He was in quite a precarious location. It was a concern, as he’d been drinking, he may fall or jump. There is nothing to say he was threatening to jump.”


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