Inquest hears man drowned despite efforts to save him after car fell in ditch

A man’s bravery has been praised after his grandfather drowned when the car he was sitting in rolled into a ditch.

Raymond Turner (78), of Barr Farm, Deeping St Nicolas, did not survive the incident but at the recent inquest into how his death occurred, coroner Paul Cooper praised grandson Luke in what he called “one of the saddest cases I’ve had to deal with.”

The hearing was told that on September 16, 2020, Mr Turner had been sitting in a Mercedes ML270 watching employees work on land he owned.

At some point shortly before 11am the vehicle, with Mr Turner inside, rolled unseen into the nearby South Drove Drain.

His grandson and others attempted to rescue him from the vehicle, smashing the car windows, the inquest was told.

However, they were unable to save him and his body was recovered by Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue.

PC Godfrey Barlow, forensic collision investigator for Lincolnshire Police, said: “It would appear Mr Turner would regularly sit in his Mercedes at the end of the farm track with the South Drove drain behind him and watch the land being farmed.

“Mr Luke Turner describes seeing his grandfather being sat in his Mercedes and when he looked again saw that his Mercedes had disappeared.

“He made his way over to the drain to find the vehicle had entered the drain with Mr Turner inside.

“It’s not known and can’t be established what gear Mr Turner was in. It’s not known what he was doing prior to entering the water though something must have occurred for the Mercedes to have left his position and entered the drain.

“There’s no evidence of harsh braking, steering or acceleration.

“The Mercedes could not have moved backwards without the reverse gear having been selected by the driver.

“In what manner this happened can sadly not be established.”

A pathologist’s report to the inquest ruled that the death was due to drowning but that Ray also had ‘significant heart disease’ and a medical episode ‘can not be excluded’.

Mr Cooper told Luke and Raymond’s family at the inquest hearing at Lincoln Coroner’s Court: “It’s horrendous what you had to go through and you tried to save him on more than one occasion but it just wasn’t to be. I have tremendous sympathy for you and you’re a really brave man.

“It must have been horrific for you. You did every solitary thing that anyone could possibly be expected to do.

“It’s a straight forward conclusion as far as I’m concerned. It’s one of tragic accident. There’s no evidence of any attempt to take his own life; there’s no defects identified on the car, valiant attempts were made to save his life.

“Drowning is the cause of the death but ischemic heart disease is something to take into account.

“It may have affected the situation. It may have made him unconscious and the water woke him up again.

“We’re never going to know.

“All you’re going to know is that in some split-second he ended up in the water and despite all attempts he was unable to be retrieved.

“My condolences to you. I’ve found it’s one of the saddest cases I’ve had to deal with.”

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