Ardsley Reservoir death: Tomasz Lugowski drowned in 'tragic' accident at Leeds reservoir, inquest hears

A delivery driver enjoying a family outing by a Leeds reservoir drowned after getting into difficulty in the water, an inquest has concluded.
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Tomasz Lugowski, 48, died in the “tragic” accident at Ardsley Reservoir on July 16 this year during a spell of hot weather. The inquest into his death at Wakefield Coroner’s Court heard that Tomasz, who lived in Pontefract, went missing after swimming into the water.

A large search operation took place, with police, firefighters, paramedics and volunteers sent out to the reservoir, assisted by helicopters. The search continued into the following day when Tomasz’s body was pulled from the water.

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The inquest heard a statement from Tomasz’s daughter Dominika, who said her dad was a “happy person” and a hard-working man, who moved to the UK from Poland in 2004 in search of a better life for his family.

Tomasz Lugowski, 48, died after swimming into Ardsley ReservoirTomasz Lugowski, 48, died after swimming into Ardsley Reservoir
Tomasz Lugowski, 48, died after swimming into Ardsley Reservoir

Dominika said her dad had been enjoying a family barbeque on July 16; she was not present, but rang him at 4pm and said he “sounded drunk”. While others were in the water, Tomasz had repeatedly told family members that he wasn’t going in.

But at 5pm, Tomasz pointed to something on the other side of the reservoir, announcing that he was going to swim there and back. A family member grabbed his arm and urged him not to go in, but he “dived head first” into the water.

Two family members tried to follow Tomasz, but they encountered strong currents and had to turn back. His partner saw him getting into difficulty and tried to locate him, but he was soon “nowhere to be seen”, Dominika said.

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The family called the emergency services and a search operation began. The inquest heard a statement from Detective Constable Darren Young of West Yorkshire Police, who arrived at Ardsley Reservoir at 5.30pm - about 10 minutes after Tomasz had last been seen.

He encountered two young girls who said they had seen a man “clearly in trouble”. Underwater searches did not begin until around 10pm, as rescue crews had to wait for two large pumps in the reservoir to be switched off, which would be dangerous to divers.

The operation continued into the next day, when Tomasz’s body was located and brought out of the water. “We didn’t want to see him,” Dominika said in her statement. “We were all still in such shock.”

Tomasz was formally declared deceased at 3.38pm on July 17. In his statement, Detective Constable Young said it was a “tragic incident” and “heartbreaking for the family.” He added: “It was supposed to be a pleasant family picnic on a sunny day”.

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A post-mortem examination found drowning to be the direct cause of Tomasz’s death, while alcohol intoxication and amphetamine use were contributory factors.

The inquest also heard a statement from Helen Keeling, health and safety manager for Yorkshire Water, who highlighted the dangers of swimming in the operational reservoir - including the risk of cold water shock and strong currents. Ms Keeling said there are clear ‘no swimming’ signs by the reservoir’s main access point and across the site.

Concluding the inquest, coroner John Hobson ruled that Tomasz died by misadventure. He said: “Tomasz Lugowski entered the water and began swimming at Ardsley Reservoir. He encountered difficulties, went under the water and did not remerge.”