Boy, 13, drowned in Bedfordshire lake after jumping off rope swing, inquest hears

<span>Photograph: Family Handout/PA</span>
Photograph: Family Handout/PA

A “happy, cheeky, funny, intelligent” 13-year-old boy drowned when he jumped from a rope swing over a lake during last summer’s heatwave, a coroner has heard.

Kyron Hibbert, who could not swim, disappeared under the water of Stewartby lake as his friends tried vainly to save him. His body was recovered early the following morning, the inquest heard on Thursday.

He was with six friends when he took a turn on the rope swing on the evening of Friday 29 July last year.

Kyron, from Stewartby, Bedfordshire, had been sitting with his girlfriend while other friends swung on the rope and jumped into the water, which was too deep for them to touch the bottom without becoming submerged.

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 friend said: “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 already in the water – a boy and a girl – tried to grab him. The boy who had given him a push him on the rope swing also went into the water, but was unable to save him.

One of the girls and a passersby called the emergency services. Kyron’s body was found at 2am the next day.

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.

The senior Bedfordshire coroner, Emma Whitting, recorded a verdict of misadventure and said she was considering making a prevention of future death report. “I take the view more consideration could be given to how we could prevent the deaths of children,” she added.

She said she was concerned there may be ongoing risks that could cause a similar death in the future, adding her concern more was not being done to mitigate the danger of children drowning in Stewartby lake – a former clay pit in Bedfordshire where swimming is banned.

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

Anna Charles, the head ranger at the Forest of Marston Vale Trust, said 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.”

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