A WOMAN who drowned after trying to rescue her dog from rough seas was “begged” not to go into the water by a passer-by.

Suzannah Conway, known as Suzi, had been walking her three dogs along the undercliff path in Peacehaven during the early evening on Tuesday, July 28.

The 49-year-old entered the water after one of her dogs, Myrtle, chased a ball into the sea and got swept up in the waves amid rough conditions.

She was spotted by members of the public who made a team effort to rescue her after she got into difficulty in the water and was quickly dragged east by a strong swell.

Two people managed to pull Suzi to the shore and Coastguard teams, an air ambulance, a lifeboat and paramedics attended the scene. Suzi was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in an ambulance but was pronounced dead at 8.15pm.

At an inquest into her death at Brighton Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, the court heard statements from witnesses who had tried to rescue Suzi.

Patrick Goodwin was the first person to spot her before she entered the water as he was walking west along the undercliff path at about 5.45pm.

He said: “As I got nearer I saw she had three dogs. I feared the Staffie with the ball was going to end up in the sea so I started to whistle and shout, but the ball bounced into the water and it followed.

“I shouted to her: ‘Don’t go in the water, you won’t survive’.”

The Argus:

After Suzi entered the water she was quickly swept eastwards by a strong tide, Mr Goodwin said. He threw out a lifebuoy ring with a long rope and Suzi was able to grab it a couple of times, but “could not hang on due to the power of the waves and the tide”.

Mr Goodwin was joined by another passer-by, Paul David Lane, who shouted to Suzi to “take deep breaths” every time she could, and tried to help her catch hold of the life buoy.

In his statement, Mr Lane described the situation as “desperate” and after several attempts with the life buoy, chose to enter the water himself. He was joined by a surfer, Alex Abidin, and the pair managed to pull Suzi to the shore by her jeans.

Mr Abidin also managed to retrieve Suzi’s dog Myrtle from the water, but it had already died.

In his statement read to the court, he said: “I wish I could have done more but I think I arrived too late. I’m still coming to terms with it.”

Mr Lane stated: “The incident was left me feeling very sad. It was not safe to enter the water. The sea can be a cruel master at times.”

The court heard Suzi was not breathing and had cuts and grazes on her face after being hit against the sea wall. She was treated at the scene by Coastguard crews who carried out CPR before paramedics arrived.

Assistant coroner Catharine Palmer recorded the cause of Suzi’s death as drowning in sea water.

She said: “It is clear Ms Conway loved her dogs. When one of them chased after a ball she went in the sea after it, despite a person who recognised the danger and begged her not to.”

“All of the witnesses confirmed the state of the sea as rough and unsafe. They did their best in very difficult circumstances, with Mr Lane and Mr Abidin going in the sea themselves.

“This would have been very traumatic for all of them and they are to be commended. Even the Lifeboat struggled.”

The Argus: Suzannah ConwaySuzannah Conway

The coroner recorded a conclusion of misadventure.

She said: “There’s no doubt Ms Conway went into the sea of her own volition. She did not intend that to cause her death - in fact she was probably not even thinking about her own circumstances, but wholly on the care of Myrtle.”

At the inquest the court heard a statement from Suzi’s daughter Jenna, who described her mother as “incredibly generous, lively and chatty”.

She said: “Our mum loved the sea and she grew up in a beautiful village in Cornwall. She moved to Brighton with my sister and I when we were small.

“During her life she applied her intelligence to several jobs, including as an AI specialist.

“In the years since she adopted her first dog Myrtle she was the happiest we have ever seen her.

“Knowing our mum, she would not have listened to anyone about not going in the sea.

“We have so much gratitude to everyone who tried to help her. She would never have stood by and watched her dogs struggle.”