AN investigation is under way after the death of a young man at a popular beach party spot in Arnside.
Tom Hardy, from Lancaster, was at a location known as ‘The Cove’ with around 20 friends on Saturday night.
It is believed they were having a leaving party for the 22-year-old before he travelled to Cambodia in several weeks.
Police, paramedics and the Bay Search and Rescue Team were called about 3.20am on Sunday. Mr Hardy was found on the beach lying among rocks at the foot of a cliff.
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A police spokesman said: “Paramedics worked on his body but he was later pronounced dead at the scene.”
Karen Flynn, who lives and works at the nearby Newbarns Caravan Park, owned by her partner, said she was ‘on a mission’ to get the cove – a former quarry – blocked off from public use.
“These parties have taken place once or twice every summer for as long as I can remember,” she said.
“People used to come from as far as Manchester because it’s such a popular spot for parties – it’s hidden away and once you’re here you’re not really disturbing anyone.”
But to get to the remote spot revellers have to walk for around half a mile across a rocky beach with the tide coming in.
“It’s so dangerous because you’re walking on dangerous terrain in the pitch dark,” said Ms Flynn. “Two years ago a young man fell into the fire at one of these parties and we’ve spoken to the police before about them, but unless a crime is being committed they’re powerless to do anything.”
Ms Flynn said she and her family heard a group of youngsters heading down to the beach about 8.30pm on Saturday and her daughter-in-law rang the police to “make them aware it was happening.”
They were then woken up in the early hours of the morning to flashing lights as emergency vehicles hurried to the site.
“It was horrible.” said Ms Flynn. “The kids from the party all came back here and sat in our cafe – they were all in a state of shock so we made them teas and coffees and tried to keep them warm.”
Ms Flynn is in the process of finding out who owns the land where the cove is, and wants to see it filled in.
“I don’t think fencing it off would make a difference because people would just climb over, and if signs were any good we wouldn’t get people getting stuck in the sands.
“Ideally we want these parties to stop and if the cove is filled in it’s unlikely that people would come onto the beach after dark.”
Now the family of Mr Hardy have paid a moving tribute to an ‘amazing and inspirational young man’.
“We are totally devastated that Tom has been taken from us," they said.
"Tom was an incredibly positive, kind and caring young man who brought so much happiness and love to all those he knew and met.
“He was a very much loved son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin to his family. Tom was also very much loved by his girlfriend and family and his many true friends who knew what a compassionate, loving and truly inspirational young man he was.
“Tom had a great love of life and his humour and bright outlook on life always lifted people around him. His enthusiasm and sense of fun was infectious and he lived every day true to his own caring values.
"Tom was always seeking to make the world a kind and caring place to be.
“His interests were extremely wide and varied, he enjoyed everything that the world offered to him.
"He enjoyed learning about everything that interested him and he really cared about the world he lived in and all the other people and creatures in it. Tom’s kindness and compassion touched people every day.
“Tom really enjoyed football, travelling, skiing, snowboarding, music, reading, food and enjoying spending time with his family and many friends. Tom loved being with people and was a very engaging young man.
“Tom had worked tirelessly for the last two years, saving to travel with close friends and teach overseas, a trip he was to undertake very soon. Sadly Tom was not able to enjoy all he had worked towards and deserved so richly.
“We are immensely proud of Tom and we cherish the memories we have of him. He will forever be remembered, so very much loved and missed for the rest of our lives.”
A statement from Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale, where Mr Hardy had previously been a pupil, said: “We are very saddened to hear of the death of Tom.
“We have fond memories of his time with us at QES and our thoughts are with his family.”