Drama student died jumping into a ‘freezing’ reservoir to cool down on hot day

A drama student died after jumping into a 'freezing' reservoir to cool down on a hot summer's day,an inquest heard.

Mark Allen, 18, jumped from a platform into Debdale Reservoir in Gorton, Greater Manchester, on June 5 2018.

An inquest at Manchester Coroner's Court heard how Mark immediately got into difficulty due to the incredibly cold water.

The group of friends he was with raised the alarm and waded in to try to save him, but were unable to pull him out before he disappeared under the water.

His body was later recovered by police search and rescue teams, reports the Manchester Evening News.

On the day he died, Mark had gone on an errand with his dad Mark, with whom he lived in Gorton, before going to meet friends at the reservoir.

Mark's friend Niall Benson, a fellow student at Shena Simon sixth form college, told the court hearing that the group were sitting in an area at the edge of the reservoir, when Mark said he was going to jump in.

Niall said he wasn't sure if Mark was serious, as he enjoyed joking with his friends.

But the 18-year-old then scaled a fence to get onto a platform which extended over the water, before jumping off.

After landing in the water, it quickly became clear that Mark was having difficulties.

Niall said: "(The platform) was elevated from the water. He joked that he was going to jump off it.

"There was a fence he had to climb over to get to it.

"It's a bit of a blur, I saw him hit the water, but I'm not sure how he jumped in."

A number of Mark's friends waded into the reservoir to try to help him after noticing that his head was partially submerged in the water.

Describing the temperature, Niall added: "It was the coldest I have ever been in my life. I was only at the surface but it was freezing."

Mark's friend Shannon Hayden was the first person to enter the water to try to help him.

She told the hearing "It was freezing. I tried to get hold of him, but there was nothing to hold on to."

Tests showed that Mark had a very minor level of alcohol in his body, the equivalent of only a quarter of the drink drive limit. The court heard it would not have had any significant effect on him.

His cause of death was recorded as drowning.

United Utilities is responsible for the reservoir, which is no longer actively used.

A spokesperson told the hearing that there were a number of signs which read 'Danger, deep water no swimming'.

The signs also read: "It is dangerous to swim in this reservoir as the water is extremely cold and rarely gets above freezing. It is deep in places and there are hidden drops."

Paula Steer, director of health and safety and wellbeing at United Utilities explained the company has started a trial scheme with throw lines installed at a number of reservoirs in the north west, including three at Debdale.

The company has also produced a film about the dangers of entering reservoirs, and visits high schools to raise awareness with young people.

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