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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Lakes warning after man drowns in Thirlmere

A WARNING has been issued by a coroner about the dangers of swimming in Cumbria’s lakes after an inquest heard how a man drowned in Thirlmere.

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Fatal incident: Emergency services on the road, above, close to the scene at Thirlmere, top, where Muhammad Bilal Bhaty, 28, drowned after getting into difficulties while swimming with his sister back in July this year

Muhammad Bilal Bhaty, 28, from Pakistan, died while swimming in the reservoir on July 24 this year with his sister, Sara, whose life was saved by a holidaymaker.

Coroner David Roberts recorded a verdict of accidental death and warned about the dangers of swimming in lakes where the water could be much colder than first thought.

He said: “The one particular message is that people must think very carefully before entering the lakes in the Lake District. They are all known to be extremely cold.

“If there is a lesson to be learned it is that swimming in places like this can be fatal – even if you spend a short time in the water and are only swimming short distances.

“Bilal was only a few metres from the shore but got into difficulty and died because of the very cold temperature of Thirlmere.

“It is a great tragedy but if that lesson is not learned then people will die in similar circumstances.”

Mr Bhaty, his wife Hareem Mirza, sister Sara and sisters-in-law Meesa and Rhoma were visiting Thirlmere while on a family holiday.

Mr Bhaty and his sister swam out to a island around 115ft from the shore, but got into difficulty when they tried to swim back.

Sara was saved by Rhoma who helped pull her to shore with the help of Dale Laywood, who was on a family holiday in the area. But it was too late to save Mr Bhaty.

Mr Laywood and his wife Sharon, from Cannock, their two children and dog were enjoying a picnic on the shores of the reservoir when they realised two of the family were in trouble.

Mr Laywood told the inquest: “I realised there was a problem. They were both struggling to keep their heads above the water and both seemed in trouble.”

Rhoma went into the water and grabbed Sara’s jumpsuit and started dragging her back to shore while Mr Laywood grabbed his dog’s lead, waded in, threw it to Rhoma and helped pull them to shore.

Sara was unconscious when she was pulled from the water but Mr Laywood’s wife performed CPR and managed to revive her.

The alarm was raised just after 3pm and and emergency services were on the scene within quarter of an hour. Penrith’s specialised water rescue team arrived and located the body 10 minutes later.

Fire station manager Adrian Holme paid tribute to all the emergency services involved in the rescue effort.

Mr Roberts also praised the work of Mrs Laywood and said her quick thinking probably saved another life. He added: “Sara was lucky because she was just on the point of no return and if it wasn’t for Mrs Laywood’s quick thinking and activity Sara would not have made it.”

Mr Bhaty was described as a competent swimmer and a keen sportsman.

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