“An RSPCA inspector died after being swept out to sea while trying to rescue dozens of stranded birds just before Storm Imogen hit, an inquest heard.”
“Mike Reid went missing near Land’s End while on a rescue call to save 40 gannets that were trapped on the rocks.”
Gannets. You mean the seabirds that have coped with these conditions for thousands and thousands of years? That have adapted to living in them?
“On the day of his disappearance, the RSPCA received a call from Caitlin Finch who reported a flock of gannets trapped on the rocks.”
In a statement read out in the inquest, Ms Finch said:
“I got a call from an RSPCA officer who said that he was at the look out.
“I didn’t know what he was referring to and I told him I didn’t know where he was talking about and told him he had gone too far.”
“I was concerned about the weather and I remember saying to the man, ‘be careful’.
“He told me it was really windy and he had almost been blown off.””
What did he expect to be able to do? Approaching them would have almost certainly seen them fly away!
“Mr Reid’s wife, Tracey Reid, 50, attended the inquest, and said in a statement that she had struggled to come to terms with his disappearance”.
She said: “Michael worked for the RSPCA, it was a job he loved and he would regularly bring animals home for us to keep.
“I went to bed and Mike wasn’t home but I wasn’t worried, it wasn’t unusual. I assumed he was tied up with a job.”
Ms Reid said her husband would often work late, and if he returned after she went to bed he would sleep on the sofa.
But the next morning, she went down stairs and realised that her husband had not returned.
She added: “I could see the bed hadn’t been slept in and I called the RSPCA and they were reluctant to talk to me.””
Of course they were. They could see a bigger storm coming, a storm of (even more) bad PR!
““After I reported him missing I drove to my friend’s house who is an RSPCA inspector and they called and found where Mike’s last job was.”
Armed with the location, Ms Reid drove to the Minack car park, where Mr Reid’s car was parked and a major search operation was underway.
She added: “I knew something was wrong.”
She was then approached by a member of the search team.
“They told us they hadn’t found any thing, I remember saying, ‘he’s gone then’. Mike was my best friend and the person I turned to for anything,” she said.
“The last year was hell, every day I wake up and wonder if I will hear any news.
“The worst part is not knowing. Some days I just want to go to sleep and wake up and find out it was a bad dream.””
The charity, meanwhile, is busy shaking criticism off its back like those gannets shaking water off their feathers.
“The charity said it had since improved staff safety procedures.
She said: “In this case Mr Reid wasn’t able to set his PDA to back at base but that wasn’t picked up by the company.
“It was clear no one tried to check in with him to see where he was or how he was.
“If there was checking back at base the alarm could have been raised earlier.””
‘Not our fault, guv!’ Incredibly, they are even pointing the finger at the victim:
“Dermot Murphy, director of the RSPCA inspectorate, said Mr Reid had attended health and safety training courses into working alone, working at height, and working near water.
He also said his wellington boots were missing from his work van, but his life jacket was still there despite RSPCA policy insisting workers wear life jackets when working near water.”
Which is no more than I’d expect of this ghastly ‘charity’.
And what a pity RSPCA policy didn’t insist that workers remind callers that wild seabirds have evolved to cope with wind and rain…