Man dies in marina tragedy
A 31-year-old man drowned after jumping into the River Great Ouse. Leon Sheppard died at Hartford Marina, on Saturday, despite a quick response from the emergency services, which were called following reports that two people were in difficulty in the rive
A 31-year-old man drowned after jumping into the River Great Ouse.
Leon Sheppard died at Hartford Marina, on Saturday, despite a quick response from the emergency services, which were called following reports that two people were in difficulty in the river.
The tragedy comes just a week after teenagers in St Neots were widely condemned for "tombstoning" into the river from the town bridge.
Their actions, which were filmed and placed on the internet, sparked warnings not to swim in the river, no matter how hot the weather.
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Witnesses said a woman - believed to be Mr Sheppard's partner - and the man had jumped fully-clothed into the water at about 4pm at the marina in Banks End, Hartford.
The woman was rescued by firefighters, but Mr Sheppard, of George Street, Willingham, slid beneath the water. He was found several minutes later and was pronounced dead at the scene.
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An inquest was opened and adjourned in Huntingdon yesterday (Tuesday) and a post-mortem examination showed Mr Sheppard had drowned. Police are not treating his death as suspicious.
Gillian Perry, a director at the marina who witnessed the incident, said: "I was told that there was a child in the water and I called the emergency services.
"I went out to the pontoon and saw a woman in the water shouting 'save my baby'. I later found out she was referring to a man.
"It is shocking and upsetting to think that such a tragic accident should have happened at the marina. The marina is private property and we do not often get people swimming in the water as it is discouraged."
According to the medical charity Magpas, the fire service spent about 30 minutes using a floating platform to search for the man. When he was found, he never regained consciousness.
It is believed the man and woman had been at the Mill House pub and restaurant before being invited back to the marina to look at a boat.
Another witness commended the emergency services for their quick response, saying: "People do not generally swim in the marina and those who do find it difficult to get out as there are no ladders."
Further warnings have been made advising people not to swim in the county's rivers.
Kevin Gipp, watch manager for Huntingdon fire station, said: "This is a very tragic incident and our thoughts go out to this man's family and friends at this sad time.
"Unfortunately, this incident serves as a stark reminder of just how dangerous the water can be, particularly in the summer months when many residents mistakenly believe that this is a fun and relatively safe way of cooling down.
"Although rivers look inviting, they are actually extremely cold and it can be very easy to develop cramp and to get into difficulties.
"Strong undercurrents also exist in many of our waters, and these can very easily get the better of even the strongest of swimmers. Also objects can be invisible under the water that a swimmer could get tangled up in, or injure themselves on."
According to the Environment Agency, there are no safe places to swim in the Ouse - although some people continue to swim near Houghton Mill where a small beach provides an easier exit point from the river. A spokesman for Houghton Mill Caravan Club Site said: "It is up to the individual if they want to swim in the river, but I would not advise it.