Father's tragic drowning at Chichester Lakeside Holiday Park shows 'there is a risk to others'

Shane Gray tragically died in July last year
Shane Gray tragically died in July last year

The tragic drowning of a young father at a Chichester holiday park must lead to lessons being learned, a coroner has ordered.

Shane Gray was working on Lakeside Holiday Park on a hot day in July last year when he decided to take a swim in one of the lakes, his inquest heard today.

Emergency services quickly arrived at the lake but sadly were unable to revive Shane

Emergency services quickly arrived at the lake but sadly were unable to revive Shane

However, the 27-year-old soon got into trouble and disappeared under the water. Emergency services quickly arrived at the scene but were unable to revive him.

At Shane’s inquest in Crawley, his mother Poppy Cooper said: “What we are here [for] is to say that a 27-year-old boy has lost his life. Two little children left with no father. What we want is for measures to be taken and justice to be done.”

Senior coroner Penelope Schofield criticised the lack of warning signs along the lake’s edge.

She said: “It is quite clear that we need to learn from Shane’s death and protect others. There is a risk to others, in particular young children.

Shane Gray had been working as a contractor at Lakeside Holiday Park

Shane Gray had been working as a contractor at Lakeside Holiday Park

"The signage in my view and supported by the evidence was inadequate. It was inadequate for those who cannot read and it was inadequate for children.”

'Shane always did everything for everyone'

Shane’s partner Danielle Gray told the inquest that Shane did everything he could to give his family the best quality of life possible.

“He is the most hardworking person I have ever met I my life. He always did everything for everyone without wanting anything back.”

Shane's mum Poppy (right) called for change at the park and 'justice' for her son

Shane's mum Poppy (right) called for change at the park and 'justice' for her son

The inquest heard that Shane, who lived with his family on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, was a keen jet skier and loved the water.

'Lads I can't breathe'

Shane’s cousin Stephen Gray was working on the holiday park with him and another man on July 25 last year. The three men were contractors being paid to put up new caravans and take down old ones.

Stephen said after work Shane went into the lake for a swim, but soon got into trouble. He told the inquest: “He said ‘lads I can’t breathe’.

Two helicopters were called to the scene

Two helicopters were called to the scene

“I immediately thought Shane was mucking around.”

However Stephen saw Shane go under the water.

Stephen and the other man dived into the lake but he got into difficulty himself and the pair had to get out.

They dialled 999 and the emergency services arrived soon after, but Shane was pronounced dead at the scene.

Park manager: we had to try harder

Park manager Jonathan Hodson told the inquest swimming is not allowed in the lakes and that wardens had felt that natural vegetation had been sufficient to deter swimmers before Shane’s death.

He said since the incident new warning signs had been put up on the park.

“I have ordered more signs. I felt we had to try harder.”

However he added: “Can we stop this happening? No I do not think we can. There is always an opportunity to get into water.”

Coroner to write report to prevent future deaths

Senior coroner Penelope Schofield returned a conclusion of accidental death but said she was also going to write a prevention of future deaths report.

Coroners in the UK have the duty to make reports where they believe action should be taken to prevent future deaths.

Lakeside Holiday Park must provide a response to the report in 56 days.

Ms Schofield offered her condolences and said: “We can see how tempting it must have been for someone to go into a lake when it is 30 degrees.”