06 January 2023

Death of ‘heroic’ teenager who saved relatives from drowning was an accident

06 January 2023

The death of a “heroic” teenager who drowned after rescuing family members was an accident, an inquest has heard.

Callum Baker-Osborne was on holiday in Poole, Dorset on July 26, 2021, when a number of family members were swept into deep water by a strong tidal current.

Mr Baker-Osborne, 18, entered the water to help his mother, sister and young nieces and nephews, but then got into difficulty himself.

Three boats and three bystanders joined the rescue effort while Mr Baker-Osborne helped to lift his younger relatives out of the water – but he then “drifted away” and was not seen again.

His body was found washed up at Lake Pier in Poole Harbour four days later – about a mile away from where he entered the water.

There were a number of selfless acts that day, but it appears to me there was no one more heroic that day than Callum

Josh Ayles and Elizabeth McMaster, who both worked at the nearby Rockley Watersports club and joined the rescue effort, gave evidence that the tide is very strong and the depth of the water drops sharply by a number of feet as the beach reaches the boat channel.

Mrs McMaster said it would have been extremely difficult to swim against the current – which Mr Baker-Osborne did for some time to try to rescue his young niece.

Mr Baker-Osborne, from Coventry, Warwickshire, was on holiday with around 30 members of his extended family at the Haven Rockley Park Holiday Park when the tragedy occurred.

Concluding the inquest on Friday, coroner Richard Middleton said: “At around 3.30pm the family are swept off their feet and into deep water, forcing them into the deep boating channel.

“A number of people reacted to the situation, there were a number of selfless acts that day and I’ve already commended their actions, but it appears to me there was no one more heroic that day than Callum, who went to the assistance of one child after another.

“He was tireless in trying to rescue everyone who was in trouble, and was trying to swim against the tide to save one of his nieces.

“It seems the rescue efforts took a toll on Callum and he has sadly drowned.

“He was found at Lake Pier on July 30 and I reach a conclusion that Callum’s death was an accident.”

Mr Middleton declined to issue a Prevention of Future Deaths report. Haven has since taken on recommendations from the RNLI including increasing the safety information included in welcome leaflets provided to customers, and increasing signage warning of mud flats and strong currents.

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