Chorley boy’s drowning was ‘an accident’
A 15-YEAR-OLD boy drowned after getting into difficulty while swimming in a lake, an inquest heard.
Thomas Barton shouted for help just ‘three or four metres’ away from a wooden platform in the middle of Birkacre Lodge which he and four of his friends were swimming towards.
Following Thomas’s death, Chorley Council, which runs Yarrow Valley Country Park, where the accident occurred, has reviewed signage and ranger patrols at all the open water sites it runs.
An inquest in Preston heard that Thomas, of Tansley Avenue, Coppull, was 'fit and a competent swimmer' who had gone to the park on the evening of Sunday, May 27.
It had been a very hot weekend and the boys had gone in the water to cool down.
As the boys swam out, Thomas, a Holy Cross High School pupil, was the last to approach the platform, where his four friends had already climbed up on.
He began to scream and disappeared from view prompting two of the boys to jump back in to help.
However, they were unable to rescue him.
PC Matt Gillet said he and his colleague PC Keiran Helps were among the first officers on the scene at around 8pm.
The pair quickly entered the water and swam towards the platform.
PC Gillett said that the boys were pointing to the area where Thomas was last seen but they were unable to find him.
His body was recovered by a specialist police diver at around 11pm.
The inquest heard that swimming was prohibited in the park but only one sign was displayed in the car park, with the swimming ban among a list of 12 rules.
Council park ranger Jennifer Taylor said she had been working a 9am to 6pm shift on the day of the tragedy and had warned several swimmers to stay out of the water.
She had been concerned enough to call out the police at around 4pm to help her enforce the rule.
Council officer Jamie Dixon said that following the tragedy arrangements had been made for ranger patrols to be continued after 6pm if so needed and that three large, robust signs had been ordered which expressly outline swimming dangers.
Mr Jones recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Speaking after the hearing, Thomas’s dad Simon Barton said that devastating as his loss was, his primary concern during the inquest trying to put measures in place to avoid a similar incident.
He said: “We’re satisfied that all parties involved have done their utmost to show the dangers of swimming in open water.
“I feel robbed that we lost Thomas.
“He was a lovely, normal down-to-earth lad.”