Mother drowned while trying to save two boys in rough seas, inquest told

Danielle Chilvers
Danielle Chilvers (PA Media)
16:41pm, Wed 11 Nov 2020
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A mother drowned while trying to save her son and his friend who became separated from their sea kayak in rough conditions, an inquest has heard.

Two beachgoers described how they saw the two boys in the sea at Waxham in Norfolk and swam out to rescue them on August 9 this year.

They fought to bring them safely to shore and did so, exhausted.

They were then told a woman was in the water.

A surfer swam out to her, brought her to land on his board and efforts were made to resuscitate her.

But mother-of-two Danielle Chilvers, 37, of Swaffham in Norfolk, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The teacher died by misadventure, Wednesday’s inquest in Norwich concluded.

Chris Gribble, chief executive of the National Centre for Writing, and fellow beachgoer Pasco Kevlin told how they went into the water and rescued the two boys.

Waves were coming at us from every direction and the sea was ferocious

In a statement read by the coroner’s officer, Mr Gribble said he saw two boys who had lost contact with their yellow sea kayak.

He said he was “immediately worried” and the boat was “bobbing away from them”.

He and Mr Kevlin went into the sea to help the boys, who had become separated from each other.

“They were both distressed and calling for help,” said Mr Gribble. “I shouted to Pasco to go and help the boy closer to the shore.”

He said he tried to use the sea kayak in the rescue but it got swept away by a large wave.

“The breakwater was really rough and I soon realised we weren’t making progress, the riptide was keeping us out,” he said, adding the boys were “panicky but very brave”.

Describing the conditions, Mr Kevlin said: “Waves were coming at us from every direction and the sea was ferocious.

“Between Chris and I, we got the boys to the shore.”

Both men described struggling against the current, and said that once they were on land they were told there was a woman in the water.

Norfolk’s senior coroner Jacqueline Lake said: “This is a very tragic death and demonstrates the dangers of our coastline.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who helped and risked their own lives, including those who were on the beach on the day and the coastguards and lifeboat service.”

Recording a conclusion of misadventure on Ms Chilvers’s death, she added: “I’m satisfied from the evidence I’ve heard that this was the unintended outcome of an intended action.”

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