Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Family of drowned harbour teenager threaten to sue council

THE family of a teenager who drowned after jumping into Minehead Harbour are considering suing West Somerset Council for not providing a lifeguard who might have saved him.
Sixteen-year-old Sam Boyd, of Minehead, died on August 2 last year after leaping 10 feet into the sea from the harbour steps as the area around the harbour was packed with holidaymakers and local residents enjoying a summer’s evening.
He and a young friend ignored warning signs about the danger, and Sam also disregarded advice his mother had previously given him not to swim in the harbour.
The family moved to Minehead from Tottenham, in North London, only four months before the tragedy.
An inquest yesterday, Tuesday, January 29, heard evidence of how Sam ’doggy paddled’ to a post 50 feet out to sea and then found himself in difficulties in the heavy tide as he returned.
Sam was heard three times to shout ‘help me’ before he disappeared under the water.
He was found during the early hours of the following day after an intensive search and rescue operation which involved Minehead’s lifeboat crew, local boat owners, police, and a deep-sea diving team.
Sam’s mother, Louise Boyd, told the West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose how Sam could swim well at school but did not have a lot of experience of swimming in the sea.
She had told Sam not to swim or jump into the harbour because he said he had previously struggled there.
Mr Rose recorded a verdict of accidental death and spoke of the dangers of swimming in the sea.
Mr Rose said: “Minehead has the second-fastest tide in the world and as the lifeboatmen have told us, not even a strong swimmer could beat the currents.
“It would have been almost impossible. I would strongly advise people not to do this and I will be writing to authorities to demand clearer signs.”
Afterwards, the family spoke of their anger at the council for not making sure the harbour had a lifeguard on duty and said they were looking at taking legal action.
Sam’s stepfather, Martin Darrell, said: “It goes to prove that Minehead needs better safety provisions in the harbour. A lifeguard might have made a difference.”
  • Our photograph shows how the web version of the The Post reported the tragedy on the morning after it happened.

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