Efforts to save drowning teen Conor McColl hailed as ‘heroic’

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Desperate attempts to save a Luton teen from drowning in a quarry were “heroic”, an inquest heard this morning.

Former Lea Manor High School student Conor McColl, 16, got into difficulties after he joined three friends in the water at a former earth quarry on Jacques Lane, Clophill, on July 24 last year.

The teen disappeared under water at around 6.40pm and his body was found by a dive team at 1.15pm the following afternoon.

An inquest into Conor’s death, held this morning in Ampthill, heard that on the day of the incident the 16-year-old travelled to the quarry from Luton with three friends– Reece Campbell, Thomas Robertson and Vaidas Nartautas– and on arrival they found eight other teenagers already there.

Detective sergeant Albert Freer said: “After a period of time Conor started to struggle in the water.

“Vaidas tried to pull him up and push him to the side.

“Conor tried to cling

onto Vaidas’ leg as he went down.”

Conor’s friends frantically tried to search for the 16-year-old before other teens at the quarry called the emergency services.

A toxicology report

found traces of cannabis in Conor’s blood but the doctor which carried out the post mortem on July 28 did not comment on whether this could have slowed the teen’s reactions.

Primary cause of death was listed as drowning, while presence of cannabinoids was given as a secondary cause.

Coroner Tom Osborne ruled that the 16-year-old died as a result of ‘misadventure’.

He said: “It went horribly wrong...Conor got out of his depth and despite heroic efforts he went under and could not be saved.”

The weekend of the teen’s death saw four people across the region die in open water.

The day before a 15-year-old schoolboy drowned while playing in the River Great Ouse in Hartford, Cambridgeshire.

Mr Osborne added: “Unfortunately many coroners have to deal with one or two of these cases every year...one can read of these incidents every week during summer.

“Even in the height of summer these pools remain extremely cold.

“Hopefully the message will get across that this is an extremely dangerous pasttime.”

Following Conor’s death villagers in Clophill claimed the tragedy was an accident ‘waiting to happen’.

One said: “We wanted to take over the land ourselves and turn it into a leisure park for the village, which would have had proper security and supervision.

“That hasn’t happened and children have been climbing over the fence getting into the water.

“It’s been going on for ages.

“The problem is that it used to be a quarry and the water is very very deep.

“This has happened at the start of the summer holidays and kids have been going down there since the hot weather began.”