Father, 86, drowned while trying to save his disabled daughter, 27

Father, 86, drowned while trying to save his disabled daughter, 27, after she lost control of her mobility scooter and fell into canal, inquest hears

  • Lawrence Casey jumped into Bude Canal, north Cornwall, to rescue his daughter
  • Jessica was rescued and taken to hospital, but Mr Casey died a short time later
  • She is wheelchair bound and is believed to have lost control of mobility scooter
  • Inquest at Cornwall Coroner’s Court recorded conclusion of accidental death

A father drowned while trying to rescue his disabled daughter after her mobility scooter fell into a canal, an inquest has heard. 

Lawrence Casey, 86, jumped into the icy cold Bude Canal in north Cornwall after his daughter Jessica lost control of her scooter at around 5.20pm on September 1 last year.

But as he tried desperately to rescue his daughter, Mr Casey died while Jessica was pulled out by passers-by and brought to hospital.

An inquest at Cornwall Coroner’s Court today heard that no one witnessed Jessica, a 27-year-old with cerebral palsy, entering the water.

But a passing jogger alerted two nearby fishermen a short time later, who were both able to rescue Mr Casey from the water.

A paddleboard instructor, who also heard the commotion, then dived in to save Ms Casey and started CPR on her unconscious father.

Emergency services, including an air ambulance, rushed to the scene but Mr Casey was pronounced dead a short time later.

The inquest heard today that Ms Casey uses a wheelchair and is aided in communication by a tablet computer.

Her mother Ruth told the inquest that her estranged husband and daughter would often go out on walks together.

Lawrence Casey, 86, drowned in the Bude Canal in Cornwall at 5.20pm on Wednesday evening. Pictured, with his daughter Jessica

Lawrence Casey, 86, drowned in the Bude Canal (pictured) in Cornwall at 5.20pm on Wednesday evening

She said: ‘On the day in question I have been told by Jessica she and Lawrence went for a walk along Bude Canal.

‘Jessica told me that somehow she went into the canal while on her mobility scooter. Jessica also told me that Daddy couldn’t swim and that she could swim, and she told me that Daddy then sank.

‘I know that Lawrence can swim, and he was a very strong swimmer.

‘Since Lawrence’s death Jessica’s account of what happened has changed several times because of discussions she’s heard between family members trying to piece together what could have happened.’

Mr Casey, a father-of-nine, joined the Merchant Navy after leaving school and also served in the RAF before setting up his own business.

Mrs Casey added: ‘Our marriage broke down, but we always remained on very good terms. Lawrence cared for Jessica impeccably well and he was always a great support.

‘He and Jessica were very close, and he took her out most days for exercise and socialisation.’

Fisherman David Flay, who jumped into the canal to try and rescue Mr Casey, said he did his best to try to save his life.

He added: ‘At no point did I hear Jessica tell anybody what had happened.

‘I now assume that she went into the water and the male, her dad, had gone in after her to rescue her. I have never been involved in anything like this before.

‘I am not first aid trained but I did everything I could to save that man’s life and I am truly sorry we were unable to.’

A post-mortem examination gave Mr Carey’s cause of death as drowning.

Police concluded that the incident took place when Ms Casey’s mobility scooter ended up in the water and Mr Casey had jumped in after her.

Detective Constable James McDonald told the inquest: ‘For reasons unexplained Jessica has somehow driven the mobility scooter into the canal and that her father has gone in after her.

‘As a consequence, he has either drowned or had a medical episode resulting in his death.’

Andrew Cox, senior coroner for Cornwall, recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

He said: ‘Mr Casey’s daughter ended up in the canal for reasons that are not explained, and Mr Casey has gone in after his daughter in an attempt to rescue her.

‘Sadly, he has either had a medical episode or he has drowned in that effort. 

‘Fortunately, Jessica was able to be recovered because of the commendable actions of those present at the time.’

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