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Eyewitness recalls Nicholas Warren's desperate struggle to save dog from the sea in Kingsdown


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A man who died after he went into the sea to save his dog has been called a hero by a man who tried to help.

Nicholas Warren, 58, died in the water after trying to rescue his six month-old dog, believed to be a black labrador, while walking with his partner in Kingsdown at about 12.30pm on Sunday.

It is understood he lived in a village between Dover and Deal.

Wreaths near the scene at Oldstairs Bay, Kingsdown where a Nicholas Warren died in the sea while trying to save his dog. Picture: Chris Davey
Wreaths near the scene at Oldstairs Bay, Kingsdown where a Nicholas Warren died in the sea while trying to save his dog. Picture: Chris Davey

Norman Kirkland, 71, of Rectory Road, Deal, was walking his two dogs near the rifle range, where the incident happened.

In an exclusive interview with our sister paper, the Mercury, he said he wants to credit Mr Warren for his heroism.

“I know he was silly for what he did but he was an absolute hero. He was more than ‘just an idiot jumping into the sea for his dog’. He tried his damndest” - Norman Kirkland

He said: “I know he was silly for what he did but he was an absolute hero.

“He was more than ‘just an idiot jumping into the sea for his dog’. He tried his damndest.”

Mr Kirkland, a former Royal Marine, saw Mr Warren pretend to throw a ball while exercising his pet. It chased after it, jumping over the sea wall into the water.

He said: “He asked if there was a drop the other side. We walked to the wall and saw the dog in the water. It was about a 6ft drop.

“Just below the sea wall there is a ledge that sticks out a couple of feet.

“He took his jacket and jumper off and jumped down onto the rock and asked for my dog leads.”

The two men tied their three leads together, creating a noose to pull the dog back to land.

He said: “We tied them together. Then he got down on the rock.”

While lying down, the man continued trying to lasso the dog using the three leads.

“The noose just kept slipping off,” he said.

“Then he stood up, took his boots off, handed them to me and jumped straight in.

“He did it on complete impulse. I wasn’t expecting him to go into the sea.”

At this point, Mr Kirkland had hold of one end of the three leads and the man in the water was holding the other end.

The lifeboat coming in to the station in Walmer. Picture: Lisa Hale
The lifeboat coming in to the station in Walmer. Picture: Lisa Hale

He said: “I was working with him and his partner was phoning for the lifeboat.

“He swam to the dog and kept trying to get him. At some point the leads broke.

“The lead was running along the rough sea wall. It must have just frayed and snapped.”

Another man arrived with a dog and a child. Mr Kirkland asked him for his lead and threw it to the man in the water.

He said: “I threw him the lead and he tied it to the other bit of the broken lead.

“I had it wrapped around my hand so I had a proper grip of it. It snapped again.”

Mr Kirkland described the man as fit and said he was not panicking.

He said: “His whole mind was stuck on trying to get to the dog.

“He kept trying to climb up the rock but he just kept slipping off.

“He got weaker and weaker and then the sea took him out.”

The emergency services at the lifeboat station in Walmer. Picture: Lisa Hale
The emergency services at the lifeboat station in Walmer. Picture: Lisa Hale

The man was recovered by the lifeboat shortly afterwards and taken to the lifeboat station in Walmer, and then airlifted to the QEQM hospital where he later died.

Mr Kirkland said: “In retrospect, it didn’t enter my mind that he would go in. I couldn’t have gone in, I have Parkinson’s disease. I wouldn’t have been able to do anything.”

Mr Kirkland stayed at the scene after putting his two dogs back in his car. He then helped direct the lifeboat volunteers to the dog.

Dog walkers and passers-by crowded together to console the man’s partner before she left the scene.

Mr Kirkland did not take her name and approached the Mercury to get in touch with her.

He has since revisited the scene where he found a note left to him and they are now in touch.

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