Search called off for missing Black Country firefighter doing charity swim in English Channel
The search for a missing West Midlands firefighter who was swimming the English Channel for charity has been called off, authorities have confirmed.
West Midlands Fire Service crew manager Iain Hughes, based at Wednesbury station as part of the technical rescue unit, began his attempt on Tuesday. He was reported missing later that day and had been accompanied by a support boat.
French and Belgian military helicopters led a search for Mr Hughes alongside navy and police patrol boats but French authorities have now called off the search.
Mr Hughes has been described as "a highly-respected and much-loved colleague and friend".
The Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service released a statement on Twitter expressing solidarity with Mr Hughes's loved ones and colleagues.
West Midlands Fire Service's Chief Fire Officer, Wayne Brown, said: “Iain’s disappearance is unspeakably sad. We are giving Iain’s family all the support we can at this distressing time.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and everyone close to Iain. He is a highly-respected and much-loved colleague and friend to many.”
Iain, whose 43rd birthday falls next month, had trained for nearly two years for his cross-Channel charity swim.
Married with two children, he was raising funds for The Fire Fighters Charity, British Heart Foundation and Midlands Air Ambulance.
Iain joined West Midlands Fire Service in 1999, at the age of 19.
He was posted to Bournbrook fire station, and later served at Billesley, Tipton, Wolverhampton, Tettenhall, Bilston, Brierley Hill and Stourbridge. He was promoted to crew manager in 2016 and joined the technical rescue unit last year.
The fire service added: "Could we please ask that the privacy of Iain and his family is respected during this very challenging time."
Mr Hughes has already raised more than £10,000 for the chosen charities.