A CANOEIST died after he lost control when he became trapped in a weir.
Dad of two Andrew Weatherill, 33, from Hartlepool, got into difficulties on the River Tyne at Riding Mill in Northumberland on February 12 this year, an inquest was told yesterday.
Mr Weatherill, a former soldier, was a father to seven-year-old Louis from a previous relationship, and had become a new father to baby Charlie just four months before the tragedy.
Police were called after a gamekeeper had spotted someone trapped in the centre of the river, but a rapid water rescue crew could not enter the river because it was too dangerous.
A helicopter from RAF Boulmer attended and Mr Weatherill was winched from the water.
He was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary and pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
Newcastle Coroner David Mitford recorded a verdict of accidental death.
The inquest heard that Mr Weatherill had successfully made his way along the river and followed advice to avoid dangerous areas. But then he lost control of the canoe in high waters and seemed unable to steer away from a pumping station at Riding Mill.
Mr Weatherill’s dad, Roland, told the hearing in Newcastle that there was a sign marked danger. But he said it was too close to the obstacle and might not have been seen until it was too late.
Mr Mitford said that signage along the river may need improving. But he concluded that this had been a tragic accident in which Mr Weatherill seemed to have been taken by surprise.
Days after his death, his partner Rachel Johnson, 21, told the Hartlepool Mail that Mr Weatherill was the “perfect dad” who lived life to the full.
The tragedy happened after Mr Weatherill had enjoyed a romantic weekend away with his girlfriend to celebrate Valentine’s Day and decided to go canoeing before returning home to Hartlepool.