Driver, 26, in car plunge tragedy named

Police have named the man who died after driving his car over the clifftop at Beachy Head on Friday night.

He was 26-year-old George Lloyd-Lewis, from Hale in Cheshire.

Mr Lloyd-Lewis survived the 550ft fall and was recovered from the blue Volkswagen Passat by the crews of both Eastbourne lifeboats and HM Coastguard.

He was transferred to the Coastguard helicopter and airlifted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton with serious injuries, but tragically died there early on Saturday. The dramatic rescue got underway on Friday evening at 6.30pm after a member of the public spotted Mr Lloyd-Lewis drive up across the grass verge and over the clifftop.

Coastguard volunteers rushed to the scene and found he had been thrown from the car and was still alive on the beach.

With the rising tide and failing light, lifeboat crews were called into action and lifeboat doctor Stephen Lytton swam ashore from the boat to tend to him.

Using flares and night lights emergency services battled to save him and he was taken by the coastguard helicopter to the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

Eastbourne Coastguard manager Stuart McNab said it was exceptional Mr Lloyd-Lewis had initially survived such a plunge over the suicide spot.

“It is very rare for somebody to survive that kind of fall,” he said as both he and lifeboat coxswain Mark Sawyer praised the efforts of all those involved in the rescue operation.

Eastbourne RNLI spokesman Bob Jeffery said, “The man was thrown from the front of the vehicle and when we got there we were expecting the worst but we found he was alive.

“It was dreadful conditions in the dark and with a heavy surf, one crewman had to swim ashore as we could not get the inshore lifeboat in close enough.”

Police say there are no suspicious circumstances.