Men are praised for bid to save kayaker

A CORONER yesterday thanked two men who tirelessly tried to save a kayaker who died after he got into difficulties in a swollen river in Yorkshire.

Matthew Baird-Parker, 36, was out with fellow kayakers James Pullen and John Wootton when his boat became trapped by a tree that had fallen into Arkle Beck, near Reeth, in the Yorkshire Dales, an inquest at Richmond Town Hall heard.

Mr Pullen told the hearing that they had come across one tree in the water and had negotiated it. But soon afterwards they came across a second which Mr Pullen, who was the first down, successfully navigated, but when he looked back he realised Mr Baird-Parker, of Liversedge, was in difficulties.

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“I looked over my shoulder and realised he had had some issues...I realised that he might need assistance,” Mr Pullen said.

When the pair went to help they could see part of the kayak was trapped beneath the tree.

Despite the freezing water conditions they spent around twenty minutes to half an hour desperately trying to free him as his kayak filled with more and more water, eventually submerging Mr Baird-Parker and his kayak. Realising they could do no more they ran to get help.

All three kayakers were experienced, and although the waters were swollen with snow melt, when the accident happened, in January this year, both Mr Pullen and Mr Wootton told the hearing, they believed it was safe.

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Sgt Stuart Grainger, said the accident happened after a period of snowfall, which had been starting to thaw. He said the river was not bankfull but was higher than normal.

Coroner Rob Turnbull, who heard Mr Baird-Parker died as a result of drowning, recorded a verdict of accidental death, and thanked the men saying they had worked: “really tirelessly with little chance of success.”

Stephen Baird-Parker, Mr Baird-Parker’s father told the hearing his wished to thank the men and the emergency services.

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