Father and son drowned together hunting for treasure in magnet fishing trip on Yorkshire canal

A coroner today warned of the 'inherent dangers' of magnet fishing after hearing how a father and son drowned while 'hunting for treasure' in a canal.
Cooper Bridge, where the incident happenedCooper Bridge, where the incident happened
Cooper Bridge, where the incident happened

The bodies of Martin Andrews, 43, and son Jack Andrews, 19, were found by divers submerged and 'standing upright' at the bottom of a lock within a foot of one another.

The pair had gone to the canal at Cooper Bridge, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, on June 16, to fish for treasure using a line attached to a strong magnet.

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Coroner Martin Fleming heard there were no eyewitnesses around to confirm how the pair came to be in the water.

However, it is believed that one of them may have got into some difficulties and down to their devotion to one another tried to help, the hearing in Bradford was told.

The pair were regular cannabis users which could have affected their balance and reaction time but there was no way of determining if they had taken cannabis that morning, a court heard.

Speaking at the inquest into their deaths 44-year-old Angela Andrews, wife of Martin and mother of Jack, said: “The family shared a passion of magnet fishing in hope of finding a rare and valuable passion.

“They were hunting for treasure.”

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The inquest heard how Angela tragically discovered her husband and son had drowned while magnet fishing when she rang her spouse's phone and the police answered.

Angela, 44, had last seen Martin and Jack at 6.15am as she prepared to go to work and they were researching where to go.

Martin and Jack were found by police divers at 7.15pm that evening, after a local dog walker spotted their belongings on the canal bank just after 9.30am and alerted the police.

Speaking prior to the inquest, Angela Andrews, 44, described her husband and son as “heroes”.

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She said: "My last words were 'stay safe, be careful - don't go in the water'.

“But somehow - they did end up in the water. Their bodies were found a few hours later.''They were together, in the bottom of the lock. Round each other, so it looked like, one had fallen in, the other had gone after.

“They're both heroes to me, they've tried to save each other.''

Speaking today (Thurs) Detective Inspector Samantha Lindsay said after a thorough police investigation they have ruled there were no third parties involved.

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She described how the underwater divers discovered Martin and Jack standing upright in the silt on the bottom of the canal and that they were found within a foot of one another.

She said: “While divers were searching they found something hard.

“They realised sadly it was the body of Martin seemingly standing in the water. They tugged at his clothing and he floated up to the top.”

Det Insp Lindsay said that Jack was found within a foot of his dad.

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Martin was found barefoot with muddied feet which suggests he may have become stuck in the silt mud at the bottom of the canal in the Cooper Bridge area of Huddersfield.

Giving evidence, Stephen Williamson, Health and Safety adviser for the Canal and River Trust said these were the first ever fatalities recorded in that area.

He said that due to the heatwave water levels were slightly lower than normal in the canal than usual because of the “drought situation.”

Coroner Martin Fleming concluded that the father and son died as a result of misadventure.

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He said: “This is a heartbreaking tragedy. Your hearts are broken and you are desperate to get over this terrible loss.

“Martin and Jack’s death is a distressing blow to all the family, which I am sure will have left a massive void in your lives.

“The cause of death was drowning and there is evidence of cannabis use which may have played a part but we don’t know for sure if it was taken that day or a week before.

“It is likely given the devotion to each other one was trying to save the other. And became overwhelmed by the water.

“This harmless pastime does have inherent dangers.”

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Coroner Fleming offered his sincere condolences to the family and thanked them for helping with the inquest.

Angela broke down in tears as the conclusion was read and was supported by friends and members of her family including her son Josh.