‘Herculean’ efforts of Barford father described at inquest following boating tragedy
AN inquest has heard of the “herculean” efforts of a Barford father and his neighbours to save the lives of his three young children.
Julian Mynott and his three-year-old son Freddie died after the boat they were in in the River Avon near to their home capsized on May 12.
Mr Mynott’s two other children, seven-year-old Archie and six-year-old Flossie, were rescued by villager Matthew Macfayden and resuscitated by neighbours and paramedics. They have since made a full recovery.
A statement by the 42-year-old’s wife Emma Mynott, who had been at home preparing a meal for guests at time, was read out at an inquest into the father and son’s deaths held at the Justice Centre in Leamington today (Wednesday).
Describing her husband, an antiques dealer, as a “totally competent sailor” who always made sure that his children were wearing lifejackets when they were boating, she recalled on the day of the incident how her children had become excited when Mr Mynott returned from a short trip out on the river and told them he had seen a tree partly fallen into the water.
She said: “It was a sunny day, so Julian said he would take them to see it.
“Freddie was also eager to go and it was hard to say no. I can still see him running down the garden path as they left.”
Forty minutes later, she went out of the back of the family home, which backed on to the river, after hearing shouts.
She said: “To my horror, I saw Julian standing up in the water waist high and the boat was upside down. There was no sign of the children.”
Det Sgt Tim Carter told the inquest of the involvement of various neighbours – including Mr Macfayden and his wife Kirsty Healey, who live on the island on the opposite side of the river, who threw their grappling hook they use for fishing out to the children while Mr Mynott struggled to swim against the current to get to them.
Mr Macfayden then got into the water himself and managed to rescue Archie and Flossie but was unable to reach Freddie and could no longer see Mr Mynott.
Det Sgt Carter said: “After a prolonged search and rescue effort, the bodies of Freddie and Julian were recovered in similar locations in close proximity to the weir.
“The boat was completely smashed in half and the motor was never found. There was not more than 30m between the mooring by the house and the weir.”
Recording a verdict of accidental death for both Mr Mynott and Freddie, coroner Sean McGovern said: “This was a terrible accident. We will never know why this small boat went over the weir.
“Mr Mynott could have easily saved himself, but he chose not to. He died in his attempt to save his children.
“Many residents did their absolute best to try to pull the children from the water. Mr Macfayden in particular should be recognised for his bravery.”
Speaking after the inquest, Det Insp Colin Jones, who led the police operation on the day of the incident, said: “For everyone who was involved in the tragic events on May 12, it is a day which we are sure will stay with them forever.
“Together with Barford residents, more than 50 representatives from the police, fire, ambulance and specialist rescue teams were involved in the rescue operation – and everyone, without exception, was affected by what happened.
“We also experienced the strength of the close-knot community of Barford. In the days that followed, the provided support to each other and, most importantly, they have continued to offer support to Emma and her children.”
He added: “We can never know exactly what happened in the boat, 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.
“Our thoughts and those of our colleagues are with Emma and her family.”
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Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
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