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By Kevin Unitt Wednesday 05 December 2012 Updated: 11/12 08:15
A FATHER'S “Herculean” effort to save his children when their boat capsized in Barford ended in tragedy as he and his youngest son were drowned, an inquest has heard.
Successful antiques dealer Julian Mynott, 42, and three-year-old son Freddie were killed after their small motorised fibreglass rowing boat capsized after being swept over a three-metre high weir on the River Avon, close to their home, on May 12 this year.
Also in the boat were his six-year-old daughter Florence, who suffered a heart attack, and seven-year-old son Archie, but both have made full recoveries after being pulled from the fast-flowing swollen river thanks to the extraordinary help of neighbours.
An inquest held at Leamington Justice Centre yesterday (Wednesday) was not attended by the Mynott family but a statement on behalf of Julian's wife Emma explained her husband had much boating experience and took the safety of his children very seriously, insisting all wore a life jackets before they went out on that fateful Saturday evening. Florence and Archie could both swim but Freddie, who could not, was excited to go out on the river too and was allowed along.
At 5.30pm neighbours saw them suddenly in difficulty, the boat having capsized and the children bobbing up and down in the water. The force of the current eventually ripped their life jackets away and Freddie disappeared under the water. Julian, standing up in the water, screamed for help as he attempted to swim through the current to reach his children.
On the riverbank, neighbours attempted to throw ropes out to the children and eventually one of them – Matthew McFadden - tied himself to rope attached to a large tree and lowered himself into the water, managing to grab hold of the older two children. They lost sight of Julian soon after. His and Freddie's bodies were recovered from the river later that evening.
Coroner Sean Patrick McGovern, recording a verdict of accidental death, described the case as “terrible” and offered his condolences to the family, adding “it would have been easy for Mr Mynott to walk away from this but he chose not to – he died trying to save his children.”
Mr McGovern also praised the many residents of Barford who had done their “absolute best” to save the family, singling out Mr McFadden's contribution as especially brave.
In a statement DS Colin James, Warwickshire Police's senior investigating officer, also praised the “strength of the close-knit community of Barford.
He said: “Together with Barford residents, more than 50 representatives from the police, fire, ambulance and specialist rescue teams were involved in the operation and everyone, without exception, was affected by what happened.
“We can never know exactly what happened in the boat on that early summer afternoon, but we have heard today of the Herculean efforts of a father to protect and save his children in the most challenging and overwhelming of situations.”
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