A father-of-three fell into the Thames and drowned in front of his young daughters during a fishing trip, an inquest heard today.
Dean Luckett, 33, had taken two of his children on a cycle path and stopped to fish on the banks of the river in Wallingford, South Oxfordshire, on July 3.
At Oxford Coroner’s Court, it was suggested that the carpenter caught a bite on his line and tried to reel in the fish before falling in.
The carpenter’s two daughters shouted ‘Daddy, Daddy’ as they saw him struggling in the fast-flowing murky water and appealed for help from passers-by several times.
During the inquest, Mr Luckett’s mother, Lisa, challenged why nobody had successfully managed to get him out of the river before he drowned.
The coroner heard evidence that as a fish pulled on his line, Mr Luckett rushed to grab his professional rod before slipping and landing in the water.
However, the assistant coroner said this could not be proved for certain.
Believing their father was ‘messing around’, his two young daughters shouted from the waters edge before alerting a couple nearby to the scene unfolding.
Eyewitness Amy Roy told the hearing: ‘I was walking along the River Thames bank with my husband on a beautiful summer’s evening.
We saw a man fishing with his children. It was a picturesque, really quiet scene. The older child was running around when I heard them say “Daddy Daddy”.
‘I tried not to look as I didn’t want to invade their privacy. The girls then alerted us that they needed help.’
The children, who said their father was a strong swimmer, asked the couple: ‘Excuse me, can you help us? We do not know if he is messing around.
‘Our dad is in the water.’
The coroner heard that Mr Luckett was found two metres from the edge of the Thames, floating face down in the water.
While attempting to rescue him, the couple dialled 999 before emergency services arrived and pulled him from the river.
Despite paramedics carrying out CPR, Mr Luckett, from Dorchester-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire, was declared dead just after 7pm. His cause of death was confirmed as drowning, the coroner heard.
The spot where he drowned was described as an open river bank popular with anglers, with a drop of 50cms.
Assistant coroner Nicholas Graham said: ‘How he came to be in the water seems to have been a tragic accident. Whether he slipped or it was that he went to grab a fishing rod we will never know. It was a tragic accident.’
At the conclusion of the inquest, Mr Luckett’s mother said: ‘There was a group of people there, my son could have been easily saved.
‘Apart from the man who went in but got frightened and got back out, there was a group of other fisherman who came across and someone on a paddle board.
‘Why was he left to drown when there was so many people there? It is so wrong. He could have been saved, he was left to sink and that was that.
‘They heard the girls calling so many times before they went over to them. It is upsetting knowing that he could have been saved and he wasn’t.’
In a tribute posted online, his family wrote: ‘It is with deep sadness that Dean unexpectedly passed away on July 3. He will be greatly missed by all those that knew and loved him.
‘Especially his family, partner Sian and his three beautiful girls, Shaniece, Tisharna and Niamh forever in hearts… a love like yours could never die, love you.’