Home   Deal   News   Article

Lucas Dobson inquest: Boy who fell in river in Sandwich died by accident

The death of a six-year-old boy who drowned after he went missing near a river was a tragic accident, a coroner has ruled.

Lucas Dobson had been spending time with his father and friends near the River Stour at Sandwich when he went missing on Saturday, August 17.

Six-year-old Lucas Dobson fell into the River Stour
Six-year-old Lucas Dobson fell into the River Stour

An inquest held this morning at Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone heard that Lucas was playing with other children on the river bank when he fell into the water between a jetty and a moored boat.

His father Nathan Dobson told the hearing that he was working on one of a number of vessels by the river, while his friend James Fromage was cooking on a barbecue and another friend Pete Snelson was fishing nearby.

Lucas was one of a number of children who had been playing by the river, and he tried to climb onto one of the boats with them.

Fighting to hold back tears, Mr Dobson said: "I looked down for less than a minute, and then I heard a commotion. I stood up and saw the look on James' face, and he said it was Lucas.

"Before a blink of an eye they were in the water looking for him. I saw James and Pete get in the water and I looked which way the current was going and I went a few boats up to jump in the river."

Mr Fromage, at whose riverside property the boats were moored, told the inquest he had seen Lucas attempt to climb between the jetty and a boat.

He said: "He went for the rail [of the boat] and lifted his foot and missed the rail and dropped, straight in feet-first. I dropped the barbecue tongs and jumped down to try and grab him but I could not get in the gap between the boat and the mooring."

Recollecting the conditions in the river that summer's afternoon, Mr Fromage told how the "surprisingly strong" current had carried him away from the spot where Lucas was last seen falling into the water. None of those present when the accident took place, including Lucas, were wearing lifejackets or other safety equipment.

Despite searching frantically for some time, the friends were unable to find Lucas and the emergency services were called. This sparked a five-day search for the Warden House Primary School pupil from Deal, which saw hundreds of worried members of the community join expert volunteers from Kent Search and Rescue.

On the Monday after he disappeared, Lucas' mum Kirsty Furze led hundreds of well-wishers on a candle-lit walk to the end of Deal pier. Another was held in St Clement's Church Sandwich, attended by Mr Dobson.

Their plight prompted a wave of support from people in coastal communities and vigils were held from Dymchurch to Whitstable including Folkestone, Dover and Ramsgate.

A Kent Fire and Rescue RIB joined the search of the River Stour at Sandwich for missing Lucas Dobson
A Kent Fire and Rescue RIB joined the search of the River Stour at Sandwich for missing Lucas Dobson

Despite days of increasingly desperate searching, the inquest heard how on Wednesday, August 21, Lucas' body was found close to where he went missing.

A post-mortem examination concluded the cause of death was immersion, and this morning Area Coroner Joanne Andrews delivered a verdict of accidental death.

Following the hearing a statement on behalf of Lucas's mother Kirsty was read by solicitor Neille Ryan.

It said: "Lucas Dobson was a beautiful, popular vibrant six-year-old boy. He loved singing, dancing cars and bikes.

Lucas' mum Kirsty Furze led the vigil the Monday after he disappeared in the water
Lucas' mum Kirsty Furze led the vigil the Monday after he disappeared in the water

"His loss has had a devastating effect on the family, so much so that Lucas' mother Kirsty could not face being here today.

"The events which led to Lucas' death were entirely preventable.

"The family are devoting all their efforts to ensure that Lucas' death brings greater awareness to safety on the river, greater care and attention is taken when children are present and that buoyancy aids are always used."

For more information on how we can report on inquests, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Deal

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More