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Darlington canoe instructor died helping children
AN outdoor instructor from the North-East drowned in a river while directing his pupils to safety, an inquest heard yesterday.
The canoe containing 25- year-old Grant Kinnie and a 14-year-old boy became caught beneath a partly submerged tree.
Colleagues rushed to help and were able to pull the boy to safety within minutes – but Mr Kinnie, from Darlington, was trapped underwater for more than 20 minutes.
He was with four staff from Patterdale Hall outdoor education centre who were accompanying 11 boys from Bolton School, Lancashire, on a canoe trip on the River Eamont, near Penrith, Cumbria, on September 11 last year.
The inquest jury in Kendal heard that Mr Kinnie’s feet became stuck inside the capsized canoe, which was being pushed down by the fastflowing water.
Earlier, one of the eight canoes, each containing two people, capsized and the senior instructor had paddled downstream to collect it.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party, following basic safety procedures, gathered together in an area of slack water, with no rise or fall of the tide, near a small island.
It was when Mr Kinnie and staff member Miroslav Makrilik tried to join them that Mr Kinnie’s canoe became entangled in the uprooted tree at the tip of the island.
Mr Makrilik told the inquest: “I went first and Grant went after me.
“When I looked back I saw him shepherding the children’s canoe, which couldn’t manage to hit the area we were aiming at.
“He was trying to instruct them and was looking left and didn’t see the tree on the right.
“His boat capsized and the children’s boat capsized as well.”
The children in the other canoe were unharmed.
Mr Kinnie was eventually freed by his colleagues and rushed by air ambulance to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he was pronounced dead.
A post mortem examination found he died from the effects of submersion in water.
South Cumbria coroner Ian Smith commended Callum Findlay, who saved the boy in Mr Kinnie’s canoe.
He told the inquest jury, who recorded a verdict of accidental death: “Mr Kinnie was going about his normal daily job which he enjoyed greatly.
“He paid for it with his life trying to help the people under his charge.”
Mr Kinnie, of Stonedale Crescent, was a former pupil at Carmel RC College. His first job as an outdoor instructor was at Teesdale School, Barnard Castle.