Parents Of Four-Year-Old Who Died After Being Swept Out To Sea Tell How They Battled To Save Him

14/08/2014 16:47 | Updated 22 May 2015
Parents of four-year-old who died after being swept out to sea tell inquest how they battled to save him

The parents of Dylan Cecil, the four-year-old boy who died after he fell into the water at Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, have told an inquest how they fought to save him.

Dylan was with his mum and dad, Rachel McCollum and Darren Cecil when the tragedy occurred last August.

The inquest heard that Dylan had been playing with his two younger sisters on the jetty when he lost his footing and slipped into the water.

His mum and dad jumped in and tried to save him, but he was carried away by a 'whirlpool' of water.

Battling against the tide, Rachel, 27, and Darren, 30, were forced to abandon their rescue attempts.

Dylan vanished from view, and his body was finally washed ashore nearby four days later.

The family had been in Burnham from their home of Kettering, Northamptonshire, and Dylan and his sisters were due to spend a week in the seaside town with their grandparents who lived there.

The family went for a walk at around 6pm to say their goodbyes, and Dylan and his two sisters, Faith, three, Alice-Kelly, 11 months, and their cousin Georgie-May, two, began to paddle in the waves.

Parents of four-year-old who died after being swept out to sea tell inquest how they battled to save him

The inquest in Taunton was told that as he was playing, Dylan misjudged his jump, lost his footing and plunged into the water.

The Telegraph reports that in a statement read at the inquest, Dylan's mum described hearing a 'plop', but did not initially realise it was her son who had fallen into the water.

She said: "Dylan was giggling and laughing and he was jumping and suddenly he went in. I heard a plop and didn't think it was him that had gone in, then I realised it was and suddenly shouted to Darren 'he's in, he has gone'."

She said she jumped into the water with Dylan's dad, but discovered it was deeper than they expected.

"I expected to touch the sand as soon as I was in but the water was so deep I was being dragged straight out," she said. "I scooped my arms to find Dylan but he was not there. It felt like I was in a whirlpool, I was being dragged everywhere.

"The current was so strong I couldn't get back to the jetty, I was just caught in a whirlpool. The next thing I knew a red ring was being thrown around me."

Dylan's dad Darren said he saw the little boy disappear under the water.

"As I looked in the sea I saw Dylan bobbing to the top of the water and floating away. I dived into the water to try and get Dylan, I thought that water was very shallow, only about waist deep, it was very deceiving," he said.

"I went fully under and it was only then I realised how deep the water was. I couldn't see Dylan but I put my arms out in front of me to try and grab him, I couldn't find him but I was sure he had to be there because I jumped in at the exact point I saw his back bobbing up and down."

The devastated father described how he 'kept looking' but couldn't find his son.

"I had been dragged by the tide and was now about 10 minutes away from the jetty, I was trying to swim against the current but I couldn't," he told the hearing. "All my energy had gone, I was just exhausted, I remember I said 'I'm gone', I really thought I was going to die."

The inquest was told that tides at Burnham-on-Sea are some of the highest and most powerful in the world, and on the day of Dylan's death were estimated to be at around four or five knots, or 5mph, and would have easily swept an adult off their feet.

Rescue and recovery attempts were made by the RNLI and the local Burnham Area Rescue Boat but Dylan's body was not found until August 23, when it was washed ashore.

PC Pete Wills who attended the scene to recover the body, told the inquest it looked 'as if the sea had just given the boy back and placed him on the sand'.

West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose recorded a verdict of accidental death, and described Dylan's passing as a 'tragic misfortune'.

"This story is a terrible tragedy. Dylan was obviously a very lovable and lively young boy. This is something that could happen to any parent and there was nothing Dylan's parents could have done to prevent this accident," he said.

"Dylan wanted to go down towards the sea and he was jumping about and just mistook the foot hole and went in. Neither he or his parents realised how vicious the sea can be. The tide was rising and tragically it was a spring tide which is the highest. Nobody stood a chance, sadly neither did Dylan."

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