A KAYAKER who went missing for almost 48 hours and was found dead on a beach was not wearing a life jacket, an inquest has heard.

Andrea Lauro had taken a new kayak out to sea for the first time on Sunday, August 2, near Hove Lagoon.

The Coastguard received a call at 10.09am after reports of someone in difficulty in the water.

A large search party was sent out, including a life boat and Coastguard helicopter, and police were called to the scene.

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Two days later, at 5.40am, Andrea, of Western Road in Hove, was found dead on the beach adjacent to the King Alfred Leisure Centre.

An inquest into the 36-year-old’s death, held at Brighton Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, heard statements from members of the public who contacted emergency services.

The witness who first spotted Andrea said: “I was on the beach with my three-year-old son near the gym.

“It was a clear sunny day with good visibility.

“I heard someone shout ‘help’ twice. I looked out to sea and saw a boat approximately 200 metres out and a person ten metres behind who was struggling with their arms waving in the air.”

The witness said he looked away from the person for approximately ten seconds to call the Coastguard and could no longer see them when he looked back, while the boat was floating east.

The court heard Andrea’s kayak washed up on the shore just before 11am containing a life jacket and his shoes, with the seat “facing the wrong way”.

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Andrea’s girlfriend Harriet Williamson had been due to meet him after he got back from kayaking.

In her statement read out in court, she said he had bought the boat on Facebook Marketplace a couple of days earlier and was excited to use it for the first time.

Andrea’s mother, Loredana Curtoni, was the last person to see him before he went out in the boat.

In her statement read out in court, she said: “He came into my kitchen about 9am and was in a good mood.

“He said he was going fishing and would be back later that afternoon. He seemed his normal happy self.

“My son loved the sea and was always going to the beach. While he had used kayaks in the past, he had not had one of his own.

“I’ve not seen him swim before but what I will say is none of my family are very good swimmers.”

During the inquest, Ashley Rawson, maritime operation controller at the Coastguard, told the court the sea state on August 2 was slightly choppy and “not fully calm”.

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Senior coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said Andrea had disappeared “very rapidly” from sight and it was “very worrying” for someone to be in the water without a life jacket.

Mr Rawson said: “This is one of these situations we face where inexperienced people and very enthusiastic people often don’t realise the dangers.

“A life jacket can sometimes be seen as a bit of a hindrance.”

Mr Rawson confirmed Andrea’s chances of survival “would have been higher” if he had been wearing the life jacket.

He added: “A fierce choppy wave could have pushed the kayak, leading it to eject the occupant.

“There’s no cord or tether on this kayak either. I believe it comes with one and this adds to your safety as you can attach yourself to a floating device.

“It’s best to get back to the vessel you were in to give more flotation.”

The court heard a paddle had also washed up on the shore, but it was “very difficult” to ascertain if it belonged to the same kayak.

Ms Hamilton-Deeley said: “Your theory is not that the boat started drifting away or that the paddle had been lost, but that, more likely, there’s been a bit of swell and choppiness that has tipped him out.

“He’s not attached to the kayak or wearing a life jacket and so his chances of being recovered are hugely reduced, unless there were people right by him.

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“We know there were two jet skiers near him minutes later but since they did not see him he must have been out of sight.”

The coroner concluded Andrea’s death was an accident.

She recorded his cause of death as sudden immersion in sea water, which led to water shock and cardio respiratory failure.

Addressing Mr Rawson, Ms Hamilton-Deeley said: “I’m sure I speak for all Andrea’s family and friends in thanking your team for everything you did to help him. If there’s a lesson from this I suppose it is to think about the tether and to always wear a life jacket.”

Mr Rawson said: “Sometimes it takes a tragedy for there to be a lesson learned.

“If anyone is taking to the sea, remember it is not forgiving and can change in an instant. You’ve got to study what you’re going to do recreationally and make sure you understand what you’re about to undertake.

“If you’re prepared and have a life jacket and you have a way of alerting a family member and reporting what time you’re due back, that gives us a better chance of finding you.

“We need you to help us so we can help you.”

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Andrea, a father of two, was born in Como in Italy and moved to Hove when he was 12.

A builder and property designer, he had been pivotal in building his family’s restaurant and cafe businesses across Brighton and Hove, including Six, Wolfox and Food For Friends.

His brother Fabio described him as “one of the kindest people”.

Paying tribute to his brother earlier this year, he said: “When something needed doing, or if something was broken, there was only one name you would think of – Andrea. He would do anything to help people.

“Across our businesses we are a big family and he was the link. He would always be getting to know people, making coffee and telling jokes. He knew everything about everyone.”