The distraught father of a 12-year-old boy feared drowned after being swept out to sea off Anglesey described today for the first time the terrifying battle to save his son.
Adam Nash, a 35-year-old, married father-of-three, spoke to the Examiner following the disappearance of his eldest son, Isaac, a pupil at Kirkburton Middle School, on Friday lunchtime.
Holyhead Coastguard received a 999 call at 12.30pm reporting that there were several people in difficulties on the rocks in the estuary at Aberffraw.
They were Adam, his two sons Isaac and 10-year-old Xander and the boys’ grandfather Paul Nash.
Despite the emergency services – the coastguard, RNLI and the RAF helicopter doing everything they could possibly do to save Isaac - there was no happy ending and despite North Wales Police resuming the search on Sunday Isaac has still not been found.
Adam, of Highburton, said Isaac, a thrill-seeking, competitive, boy with a cheeky sense of humour and a great sense of mischief, had wanted to the climb the biggest mountain – Snowdon – so he and the boys had climbed up it on Thursday prior to travelling to Bangor.
Adam said: “It was very windy at the top of Snowdon so we all linked arms together, it was a special ‘father-and-sons’ moment.”
The following morning they visited Rhosneigr, famous for its award-winning sandy beaches where the boys were thrilled to watch kitesurfing.
Adam said: “The boys loved that and thought it was amazing. Then we all jumped back into the cars and went to Aberffraw, somewhere we have been many times before and are extremely familiar with.”
Accompanying Adam and the boys on the beach – one of Anglesey’s largest and most popular beaches – were his wife Zoe, 35, their two-year-old daughter, Greta, Adam’s father Paul and his partner Michael.
Adam said: “We walked along the beach, the boys found that boring so they went on the dunes with Coco the dog. We put all out stuff in a pile on the beach and they began enjoying burying each other’s feet in the sand.
“They stripped off and ran into the sea. I told them not to go too far. They had swum in the sea before. Isaac was a good swimmer, a strong, sporty lad. Xander is younger and not so strong. They were jumping over the waves and just paddling at first.
“Zoe was chatting to Michael and watching the dog running about. It was quite a windy day and the waves were big. It was perfectly safe but I did warn them not to go too far.
“I think Isaac had seen a little area where you can swim into near some rocks. I think he wanted to go onto them and look for barnacles.”
But then an idyllic, carefree day turned to tragedy as the two boys were swept out to sea.
Adam added: “My dad had been waving at them and shouting but they couldn’t hear him. He got a little bit concerned and stripped off.”
But he said there was still no massive concern with family members joking and taking the mickey out of Paul saying: ‘Here’s the Hoff!’
Adam said: “He swam out to where they both were near the rocks. As he swam towards them Isaac was shouting. He knew he was in trouble.
“He was getting closer to the rocks. When I saw that my dad had got to Isaac I realised that they were having trouble. Everything got loud and there was spray coming off the sea. I could sense they were panicking.
“I saw Isaac doing front crawl, trying to get back. He was very close to my dad and I thought they were fine, they are near the rocks, but then Xander was going out. I was really worried.”
Still in his trousers Adam dived into the sea and swam towards Xander but they kept getting hit by waves and being separated.
Adam, a strong, fit, swimmer, said: “We were both quite far out, we were going out to sea. I couldn’t even turn round to see what was going on with Isaac.
“I gave Xander a little bit of instruction, telling him to swim with his legs, lie on his back and to try to take big deep breaths. ‘Breathe, breathe, breathe, hold your breath,’ I told him.
“I got hold of him about three times to get him back. He was grabbing me round the neck. He said he couldn’t swim anymore. I was exhausted too. I was having problems myself let alone supporting him. I thought I just don’t want to let go of him.
“Fortunately some ‘white’ water was hitting us, and I thought it might help us travel back to shore despite the massive waves.
“When I got my feet on the ground I was massively relieved. Xander said to me: ‘I thought I was going to die.’
“As soon as I got my feet down I turned round and looked for my dad. He was washed up on to the rocks and just laid flat.
“I ran over to a bloke on the beach and asked him if my son Isaac, had got out. He said he thought someone did but he wasn’t sure. He could see the panic on my face.
“At that point I thought he was out and OK. I ran down the beach thinking I was going to see him but I didn’t. I just had a horrible feeling that he didn’t get out.
“My dad came round and his face was just screwed up and there was blood dripping down him from his arms and legs. And he said: ‘I couldn’t save him, I couldn’t save him.’
“Someone wrapped Paul in a blanket and Michael tried to raise the emergency services but couldn’t get a signal. Someone on the beach made the call and the lifeboat was out in a couple of minutes.
“A massive wave hit Paul and Isaac and he couldn’t hold on to him. There was a lot of seaweed on the rocks which was very slippery and it would have been difficult to cling on to and get a grip.
“Paul kept saying: ‘He has gone, he has gone.’ It was an absolute blur after that. I remember the ambulance being there and our going in it to Bangor Hospital. We were all in shock.
“It took an hour before I could phone Howard Lewis, (his grandpa, a retired firefighter who also lives in Highburton). Howard and Isaac had a very special bond, like they were soulmates, and I found it very difficult to tell him what had happened. They had such a strong bond.
“We went back to the beach and searched for his body for the rest of the day.”
Howard’s wife, grandmother, Suzanna Lewis, said: “People there were absolutely amazing. They were fantastic how they helped us search and their kindness to us all. There was a massive search party. They closed a race track and a football team turned out to help and a heritage centre. The whole village turned out.”
A local councillor Peter Rogers told the BBC: “Generally, it is a very safe beach. The circumstances on Friday were that it was very rough. It’s an awful accident.
“It’s heart-breaking. All our thoughts go out to the family. To have happened like this it is a real, real tragedy.”