13/10/2012 07:36 BST

Man Killed After Car Plunges From Beachy Head

A driver has died after the car he was in plunged 400ft from Beachy Head.

The man, whose name has not been revealed, was thrown clear of the vehicle and airlifted to hospital by coastguard helicopter last night after lifeboat crews braved challenging conditions to try to save him.

The vehicle plunged off the notorious East Sussex suicide spot to the east of the lighthouse at around 6.23pm.

Police and the coroner are investigating how and why the vehicle went off the cliffs.

Both Eastbourne lifeboats battled the dark and a heavy surf to get to the scene and were surprised to find the driver alive on the beach.

The lifeboat doctor was transferred ashore to administer first aid and to stabilise his condition.

He was transferred with the lifeboat doctor to a coastguard helicopter and taken directly to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

But a Sussex Police spokesman confirmed that the man died in hospital later.

Eastbourne RNLI spokesman Bob Jeffery said: "The man was thrown from the vehicle and when we got there we were expecting the worst but we found he was alive and luckily we had the doctor onboard.

"It was dreadful conditions in the dark and with a heavy surf and one crewman had to swim ashore as we could not get the inshore lifeboat in.

"The operation took around three-and-a-half hours as the coastguard helicopter had to come back to pick up the crew who went ashore."