THE DROWNING of a Pershore teenager has been branded ‘dreadful, tragic’ and something which would scar the young people involved for the rest of their lives.
County coroner Geraint Williams made the comments at the inquest into the death of Sean Stevens who lost his life at Bilford Top Lock in Worcester on March 31.
The coroner heard on Tuesday (August 9) how Sean and his friend Ryan Scott had been ‘shadow boxing’ by the side of the Worcester to Birmingham Canal when tragedy struck.
An emotional Mr Scott gave evidence and said he had spent the day with the 17-year-old after staying at his house the night before.
He told the court the pair had made their way into Worcester city centre where the shadow boxing initially began before they headed to friend Callum Telford’s house.
While there the pair, together with a number of friends, drank ‘quite a bit’ and were ‘having a laugh and a joke like boys do’ according to Mr Telford.
The group then made their way from St Paul’s towards Warndon along the canal towpath where the pair again began shadow boxing.
Under questioning from Mr Williams, both Mr Scott and a 16-year-old witness who cannot be named for legal reasons said the pair edged closer to the edge of the towpath during their sparring.
The 16-year-old claimed Mr Stevens was ‘vaguely aware’ he was close to the edge and Mr Scott confirmed he was also aware of the danger.
When asked why he hadn’t considered stopping, Mr Scott said: “We weren’t thinking about that we were just shadow boxing and having a good time.”
The inquest then heard how Mr Stevens stepped forward leading to Mr Scott accidently hitting him by his right eye which sent him backwards into the water.
A visably upset Mr Telford told the inquest of his efforts to save Mr Stevens which began when he ‘heard a splash’ from behind him and saw his friend in the water.
“I heard him screaming for help, I went for help to say my mate was drowning,” Mr Telford told the court.
He approached the lock-keepers property but then spotted a life ring buoy and threw that into the water.
The 20-year-old then risked his own life by climbing down into the water and explained his desperate efforts to find his friend.
After he finished giving evidence, Sean’s family thanked Mr Telford for trying to save their son’s life.
A post-mortem conducted by Home Office pathologist Dr Alexander Kolar concluded Mr Stevens died as a result of the consequences of initially resuscitated drowning.
The inquest also heard the 17-year-old had alcohol in his blood as well as a ‘significant amount’ of cannabis and a small amount of ecstasy.
Concluding the inquest, Mr Williams commended the bravery of Mr Telford in trying to save the teenager’s life in water which ‘came up to his face’.
“I have nothing to suggest that this was anything other than a group of young men engaging in shadow boxing,” he said.
“This incident is dreadful, tragic and will scar these young men for the rest of their lives.
Mr Williams recorded a verdict of accidental death.