“A 51-year-old builder who could not swim drowned after falling from a paddle board into the sea”


A 51-year-old man who could not swim has died after falling off his paddle board the first time he used it while 800 meters out to sea, an inquest has heard.

Builder Julian Luffman was using the board at Lepe Beach in the New Forest, Hampshire on August 28, 2021.

His wife, Olesya Luffman, told the Winchester hearing that her husband suffered from spondyloarthritis – inflammation of the spine – which meant he had limited movement in his shoulders and neck.

She said Mr Luffman, from Southampton, became interested in paddle boarding and did some research before buying two inflatable boards for their family about a month before he died.

She said he chose Lepe Beach because he thought there would be calmer seas to try out the boards.

Ms Luffman said she used her windsurf board 800m away while her son and daughter sat on one of the boards closest to the beach.

She said Mr Luffman, wearing shorts and a t-shirt but no life jacket, started using the other board and came out towards her.

She said her husband got up and fell with his feet in the water as he tried to flip the board, his head under the waves.

Ms Luffman said: ‘He came head first, tried to grab the board, the board flipped over and the fin hit him between the eyes.

“I said, ‘Are you okay?’ He said, “No, not really”.

She said she took her board to her husband and went into the sea and tried to support him by grabbing his T-shirt while trying to hold him above the water.

She added: “I was screaming and screaming and screaming. He just didn’t answer, his hands slipped. I knew he was already dead.

Ms Luffman said she initially thought her husband was joking, adding: ‘I couldn’t believe this was happening. He was a very strong gentleman. »

She criticized the lack of lifeguards on the beach, saying: ‘If people had looked through binoculars and seen my husband and called the coastguard he would still be alive. I almost died.”

The inquest has been told that the boat users heard Ms Luffman’s screams and rushed to try to rescue Mr Luffman before a Coastguard rescue helicopter arrived and pulled him out of the water. ‘water.

He was taken to Southampton General Hospital where he was pronounced dead following attempts at resuscitation.

Coroner Jason Pegg said a post-mortem examination showed the cause of death to be cardiac arrest caused by a vasovagal attack and water immersion.

Recording a narrative conclusion, he said, “Jason’s death was a direct result of being underwater, swallowing water, which made him unable to breathe.”

He added: “Mr Luffman could not swim at all, he had no ability to swim. He had suffered from spondyloarthritis for some time and it would affect his movement as well.

“After paddling up to Mrs Luffman, there came a point when Julian tried to flip the paddle board.

“It was probably the first time he tried to do it. He fell and went feet first into the sea and his head was submerged in the water.

“Julian had gone straight up. He then grabbed the board. As he tried to grab it, he was hit by one of the fins.

“He managed to hold on to one of the fins of the paddle board, but there came a point when, as Ms. Luffman graphically described it, he gently let go of that fin, looked up at the sky, and was fell back into the water.

“His lips were blue when it happened.

“When Mr. Luffman gently slipped away, he was probably deceased.”

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