Coroner says more needs to be done to prevent drowning at Stewartby Lake after child’s death

Stewartby Lake Image: Forest of Marston Vale/Facebook
Stewartby Lake Image: Forest of Marston Vale/Facebook

A 13-year-old boy who could not swim drowned when he jumped from a rope swing over Stewartby lake during last summer’s heatwave.

Kyron Hibbert’s friends tried to save him, but the teenager disappeared under the water of the former clay pit where swimming is banned on 29 July last year.

His body was recovered the following morning, an inquest at Ampthill heard today/Thursday.

The Senior Bedfordshire Coroner Emma Whitting recorded a verdict of misadventure and said she was considering making a “prevention of future death report.”

She said: “I take the view more consideration could be given to how we could prevent the deaths of children.”

She said she was concerned there may be ongoing risks that might cause a similar death in the future, adding: “I am concerned not more is being done at Stewartby Lake to reduce the risk of children drowning.”

The coroner added that there was an increased risk due to ever-hotter summers caused by climate change.

Kyron, from Stewartby, was with six friends when he took a turn on the rope swing. He said been sitting with his girlfriend while other friends swung on the rope and jumped into the water.

They had been ending so far out that they could not touch the bottom.

Cause of death

One girl said: “No one forced him to go in. He took off his shoes and socks and swung out once. He took his shirt off and pulled his trousers down. We were all laughing. “

Another said, also in a statement that was read by the coroner, “I pushed him and he continued to swing. He let go about seven feet from the land.

“He came back from under the water. He looked like he was struggling. He waved his right hand in the air. He was shouting out for two seconds and was then fully submerged under the water.”

Two of the friends who were in the water, a boy and a girl, tried to grab him. The boy who had pushed the rope also went into the water but failed.

One of the girls and a passerby called the emergency services. Kyron’s body was found at 2am the next morning in 12.16 metres of water.

Kyron Hibbert
Kyron (pictured with his mother) sadly lost his life at Stewartby lake

A police report noted that as Kryon’s tracksuit bottoms were pulled down to his ankles his movement in the lake would have been restricted and he would have been prevented from treading water. The cause of death was drowning.

His mother Kemish Hibbert said he was a: “happy, cheeky, funny, intelligent young man.”

She said he could not swim and she made it clear that he should not go into the lake.

Swimming banned

Anna Charles, the Head Ranger at the Forest of Marston Vale Trust, said that swimming in the former clay pit on the 210-acre site was prohibited.

She said: “Anyone who is in the water is asked to leave immediately. If they do not the police are called.”

Ms Charles said the rangers who work at the Marston Vale sites were not aware of the swing rope, which was removed after Kyron’s death. She said: “We would normally remove rope swings if we see them.”

There were no extra checks on swimmers from rangers during the hot weather, she said.

The coroner told Kyron’s mother and step-father: “I am sorry for the tragic circumstances and pass on my condolences.”

Reporting by South Beds News Agency
Edited by Paul Hutchinson for the Bedford Independent

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