Devastated Flintshire father recalls tragic death of son

Reporter:

Kate Forrester

THE heartbroken father of a nine-year-old boy who drowned in the River Dee has told of the horrific moment his son slipped from his grasp and disappeared under the water.

Jordan Paul Baker, of Connah’s Quay, was swimming with his father Christopher Moore, brother Lewis and friend Jordan Clegg on May 31 when tragedy struck.

An inquest yesterday into the youngster’s death heard he was swept away by strong undercurrents despite frantic efforts by his father and onlookers to save him.

The group got into difficulties when they were crossing back and forth over the river via a sandbank when they thought water levels were low.

Mr Moore, 35, of Cestrian Street, Connah’s Quay, was interviewed by police after the incident, but no action was taken against him.

A transcription of the interview was read out at the inquest, in which Mr Moore described what happened.

He said: “I had taken the boys across the river twice. I thought we had about two hours when it was safe to cross before the tide came in.

“Jordan asked me if we could go again and I said it would have to be the last time.

“We were crossing back over to our side of the river and Jordan was about three-feet away from me and I told him not to lift his feet up.

“We were nearly across and I noticed Jordan putting his head down to look under the water.

“He lifted his feet up and the water pushed him down. I grabbed him and tried to put my feet back down on the floor but I couldn’t and the water started pushing both of us down.

“I was shouting ‘swim Jordan, swim!’ but he stopped swimming and got really heavy.

“He went under the water and I followed him down to try and get him, but he disappeared and I’d lost my boy. I’d lost Jordan.”

Seven-year-old Lewis and Jordan Clegg were also struggling against the deadly force of the water, but both of them were rescued.

Passer-by Stephanie Moule, from Preston, was visiting relatives in Connah’s Quay and saw the incident unfold.

She said: “I went for a walk by the river with my partner Nikki and we noticed three children and two adults playing in the water.

“I grew up in the area and I knew the river well. I said to Nikki that it was dangerous and they should not be playing there.

“I wanted to go and say something to them, but thought better of it in this day and age.”

The pair had been about to leave the river when they realised the youngsters and one of the men were in trouble.

Miss Moule said: “I saw two boys in water up to their necks and they were in the middle of the river.

“One of the boys shouted for help and then the dad started shouting for help, so we ran back towards the bank.”

Miss Moule gave CPR to Jordan Clegg, who was dragged from the water by Mr Moore, until he started breathing again.

She added: “The dad was very distressed and was shouting ‘I’ve lost my Jordan!’”

Other eyewitnesses said Mr Moore, who collapsed after heaving Jordan Clegg from the water, had to be restrained to stop him going back in to the river to search for his eldest son.

He tearfully told the inquest: “I thought we were all right where we were, but we weren’t.”

Both Mr Moore and Lewis were taken to the Countess of Chester hospital after they were rescued. Underwater search teams recovered Jordan’s body three hours later and Mr Moore was asked to identify him.

He said: “I thought I was being taken to see Lewis so I was expecting to see him lying on the bed, but it was Jordan.

“He looked so peaceful, like he was asleep. I gave him a kiss and went to tell Lewis that Jordan wasn’t ever coming back.”

A post-mortem was carried out by Home Office pathologist Brian Rodgers, who said drowning was the cause of Jordan’s death.

Coroner John Hughes heard evidence from Steven Travis, area manager for HM Coastguard, and Dee harbourmaster Christopher Hallam.

Both said the waters of the Dee are treacherous and unpredictable.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Hughes said: “I want to say to people, as strongly as I possibly can, that the River Dee is latently dangerous.

“This message needs to be strongly reinforced to prevent another tragedy such as this, in which a nine-year-old boy lost his life.”

See full story in the Leader

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