RAF officer, 47, died in front of his wife and son after being swept out to sea at Hell’s Mouth beach in Wales, inquest hears
An RAF officer father drowned on a family holiday after being swept out to sea on notorious Hell’s Mouth beach.
An inquest was told Sgt Stephen Hulsmeier, 47, was ‘screaming for help’ when he was dragged into the waves along with a friend’s daughter on August 6.
They had been paddling in the shallow water when disaster struck at Hell’s Mouth in Porth Neigwl, North Wales. The stretch is beloved by watersports fanatics due to the huge waves that can be found there.
Best friend Christopher Brown looked out to see Steve and the 12-year-old girl 130ft away from the shore.
Mr Brown said the pair looked ‘terrified’ as he swam towards them while they were ‘visibly struggling in the deep water.’
He said: ‘I could not touch the bottom and it was extremely hard swimming in the breaking waves.’
Mr Brown was able to throw the girl to another swimmer before he went back to save Steve.
He said: ‘There was very little mercy from the sea, I could see he was going under the water. He was crying out and screaming for help.
Sgt Stephen Hulsmeier, 47, was on a family holiday in North Wales when the disaster struck
He was in the shallow water when it happened at Hell’s Mouth in Porth Neigwl, North Wales
‘I managed to get him to hold on to my ankle for about 20 seconds but we were both driven underneath some relentless waves and when I surfaced he was again some meters away.’
The inquest in Caernarfon heard exhausted Mr Brown returned to the sand while rescuers managed to pull Steve from the water.
Police, coastguard teams and paramedics joined in the rescue before beginning CPR on Steve – who had served in the RAF for 23 years.
They tried for two hours to revive the dad-of-one but he was sadly pronounced dead on August 6 last year.
Aircraft engineer Steve – also known as Hulzi – had been on holiday with wife Becky, their teenage son and two other families.
In a statement, wife Becky said: ‘This is a beach we have been to a number of times in previous years and lifeguards have never been in attendance.
Hell’s Mouth is loved by surfers and kayakers because of the large waves that can be found
‘It is my belief that had there been lifeguards or clearer signs, this may have prevented my husbands death.’
The inquest heard the beach is managed by Gwynedd Council who said ‘rigorous periodic risk assessments’ are carried out.
But a warden was not allocated to the beach on the day because it was considered a naturally occurring beach and not one of the area’s blue flag tourist beaches.
A postmortem by Dr Muhammad Aslam found a cause of death of drowning.
Assistant coroner Sarah Riley recorded a conclusion of misadventure.
After his death, a Gwynedd council spokesman said: ‘As a council we extend our deepest condolences to the family of the individual who passed away at this extremely sad time.
‘Warning signs are in place which refer to specific hazards at this location including strong currents and large breaking waves. The signage also informs the public that the beach is not supervised.
‘We urge all members of the public to be mindful of such hazards, to be very careful and take notice of specific information, guidance and warning signs.’