Teenager drowned in less than a minute after going swimming at Linton Falls in the Yorkshire Dales on the hottest day of the year

An 18-year-old man who could not swim drowned after jumping off a rock in the River Wharfe while celebrating Eid with his pregnant wife and their family.

Linton Falls

Mohammed Bilal Zeb, from Bradford, immediately got info difficulties after entering the 'extremely cold' water on July 31 last year at popular beauty spot Linton Falls, near Grassington.

An inquest into his death was held at County Hall in Northallerton today and attended by his father, brother, widow and their two-month-old son.

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This is why the River Wharfe is far more dangerous than most people think

Tragically, Mr Zeb's mother Saima Bashir died from Covid-19 soon after her son's passing..

Assistant coroner for North Yorkshire John Broadbridge ruled that although Mr Zeb had drowned, he had tested positive for Covid-19 before the trip to Linton Falls and the virus was listed as a contributory factor in his death despite him not having displayed any symptoms.

He had married his wife Salina Kauser just weeks before the evening out with a large extended family group to mark the end of the Ramadan fast.

Both Miss Kauser and her brother Vikar Hussain believed that non-swimmer Mr Zeb had been encouraged to jump from the rocks into the river after seeing their 12-year-old cousin safely do so, having initially not seemed keen.

Both siblings said that Mr Zeb was submerged in the river for less than a minute after jumping before he was pulled unconscious onto a small island and given CPR.

Miss Kauser was watching the group of swimmers and saw her husband come up after landing before being dragged back down again. He clung to Mr Hussain's back with one arm, leading to his brother-in-law also beginning to struggle, before others came to their aid.

Several bystanders tried to resuscitate Mr Zeb but he never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 9.18pm. Two bystanders who tried to swim across also got into difficulty and one had to be pulled back to the bank with a tow rope.

Four police officers who swam to the island were also praised for their bravery, but it was not until Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association volunteers arrived with specialist equipment that Mr Zeb's body could be taken back across the river by sled raft.

All of those who entered the water described it as cold, deep, fast-flowing and with a pull of current, despite the benign weather conditions on the day.

Mr Hussain jumped in before Mr Zeb and landed close to the rocks on which he could pull himself out, but said Mr Zeb landed closer to the middle of the channel and could not reach safety.

Mobile phone footage taken by a family member showed him being dragged down almost immediately.

The inquest heard from firefighter, water rescue instructor and mountain rescue volunteer David Dixon, who advised even strong swimmers to avoid bodies of 'unmanaged' open water.

Mr Dixon said the fell rescue team regularly trained at Linton Falls because they were aware of the hazards they presented. He cited slippery rocks, a deep bottom and fast-flowing water, particularly after rainfall.

"Any body of open water in a natural environment is dangerous. Linton Falls is a popular water feature with swimmers and kayakers, but it is no safer in summer and different hazards come into play at different times of year. The temperature is constantly cold and historically there have been accidents and fatalities."

Asked by Mr Broadbridge if the presence of rescue equipment such as throwlines and poles could have saved Mr Zeb, Mr Dixon said that such devices were only effective if the casualty was conscious and could grab them, and sometimes presented a risk of the rescuer being pulled in. He added that very few bodies of water in open countryside have such equipment available, and he did not know of any along the Wharfe other than some plastic rings on the Bolton Abbey estate.

Warning signs were not present at Linton Falls at the time but have since been erected.

Mr Dixon added: "Don't go into open water if you can't swim. These places are not controlled or managed and they present hazards that can often prove fatal to all levels of swimmer.

"Swim only at approved sites where lifeguards are on duty."

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Broadbridge said there were no drugs or alcohol in Mr Zeb's system and no evidence he had been forced or goaded into jumping.

He said he intended to write to the police, fire service, and local authorities to recommend the provision of lifesaving equipment be reviewed.

"This is a terrible tragedy on what should have been a happy day for everyone. These honeypot locations have their dangers, and if there is a possibility that a conscious casualty could be saved by the pole and throwline then that should be investigated. Warnings need to be emphasised to avoid further tragedies."