Page last updated at 19:32 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Swimmers made 'reckless' decision

Dave Ellams (l) and Lee Tompkins (r)
More than 50 people, an RAF helicopter and lifeboats helped the search

Two men who drowned off the North Somerset coast made an "ill-judged, irresponsible and reckless" decision to swim out to sea, a coroner has said.

Dave Ellams and Lee Tompkins died after they waded into the sea on 23 June 2009 near Birnbeck Pier, Weston-super-Mare.

Recording a verdict of accidental death on the men, coroner Tony Woodburn said they made a "conscious" decision to enter the water.

"They must have known there was a risk but nevertheless they entered the sea."

Low alcohol readings

Mr Ellams' body was discovered a week after the men had disappeared, in nearby Clevedon Bay, the inquest at Avon Coroner's Court heard.

Within hours, and on the same day, Mr Tompkins' body was found on the other side of the Bristol Channel, near Barry Island in south Wales.

The inquest was also told that contrary to reports at the time of their death Mr Ellams, 34, and Mr Tompkins, 33, had not been drinking before entering the sea.

Pathologist Dr Edward Sheffield shared this view and said toxicology reports showed they had relatively low readings of alcohol in their blood.

More than 50 personnel, an RAF helicopter and lifeboats, were dispatched to the Bristol Channel to find Mr Ellams, a chef, and Lee Tompkins, a receptionist, but the search was called-off after 24 hours.

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Weston Mercury 'Irresponsible and reckless' swimming led to deaths - 23 hrs ago
This is Weston Super Mare Swimmers swept to their deaths were 'reckless', inquest rules - 24 hrs ago
Jarrow & Hebburn Gazette 'Reckless' pair drowned swimming out to sea - 27 hrs ago

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