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Rescuers tell of tragic drowning death of mum who was trying to save her son

PUBLISHED: 16:46 11 November 2020 | UPDATED: 17:11 11 November 2020

Danielle Chilvers, 37, of Swaffham, who died at Waxham. Picture: PA/Brittany Woodman

Danielle Chilvers, 37, of Swaffham, who died at Waxham. Picture: PA/Brittany Woodman

PA/BRITTANY WOODMAN

Rescuers have told of the moment a mum-of-two drowned after trying to rescue her youngest son, who had got into difficulty in a kayak.

The rescuers’ accounts were read out at an inquest into the death of teacher Danielle Chilvers, 37, of Ash Close in Swaffham, who died at Waxham beach on August 9.

Jacqueline Lake, senior coroner for Norfolk, concluded that Miss Chilvers died through ‘misadventure’ - an unintended outcome of an intended act.

“This is a very tragic death and demonstrates the dangers of our coastline,” she said.

The tragedy unfolded after Chris Gribble and Pasco Kelvin, who were also on the beach, spotted the two boys in trouble in the rough sea, away from their kayak, and went into the water to save them.

They were able to bring the boys - who were Miss Chilvers’ 14-year-old son and a friend - back to shore, struggling against a rip tide.

But Miss Chilvers was then spotted in trouble, having gone into the sea herself to help the boys. Although a surfer was able to pull her out of the water, she was unable to be revived.

After Mr Kelvin brought one of the boys to shore he tried to help Mr Gribble, who was holding onto the kayak with the other boy, but struggling to make it back to land.

MORE: Family tributes to loving mother who died rescuing son

In his statement, Mr Kelvin said: “I tried calling for people to make a chain so we could help them as they came closer. One woman grabbed my hand, nobody else helped.

“I had no recollection of her going in.”

Mr Gribble’s statement read: “I started to get worried about not being able to bring the boy in safely. A woman swam alongside us and tried to help. The female eventually had to leave us and swim back to shore, as she was exhausted I think.

“It seemed that we were getting closer and then we weren’t. Sometimes we could take a few steps forward and then a wave would wash in and pull us back.”

Later, rescue crews from the Coastguard, RNLI, the police and air ambulance arrived, but they were unable to save Miss Chilvers’ life.

Afterwards, Kevin Kazer, Miss Chilvers’ former partner and father of her sons, paid tribute to her. He said she loved the sun and camping.

Mr Kazer said: “She loved going on trips to the coast with the boys.

“She just loved life, all the good things. She was a wonderful person.

“She liked flowers, she loved gardening, she had an allotment. She will be missed a lot, that’s for sure.”

Mrs Lake thanked the people on the beach and the Coastguard and Lifeboat crews who risked their own lives to help others.


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