Spalding

Dog walker tragically drowned trying to save pet, inquest told

A dog walker drowned while searching for her pet after he went into a fast flowing river, an inquest was told today (Wed).

Seonaid Patel, a 35 year old former NHS worker, was walking her four dogs at Moulton Marsh Nature Reserve, Lincs, when her pet dog Goose disappeared into the River Welland on the morning of June 13 this year.

An inquest at Boston was told that Seonaid, along with another dog walker, went to look for Goose.

Seonaid went down the river bank onto a path near to a quayside to search for the dog but moments later disappeared herself. Her mobile phone and an empty cigarette packet were later found nearby.

Goose managed to get out of the river but despite efforts of other dog walkers to find Seonaid , police divers later discovered her body in the water.

The inquest heard that while the search was being carried out, Seonaid’s dogs sat on the river bank crying.

Witness Stewart Norris, who was walking nearby with his wife, said “I could see a guy with a couple of dogs. He was up on the bank.

“He said the lady had gone into the water after her dog and the dog had come out but she hadn’t.

“The lady’s dogs were sat moaning and crying at the side of the bank area.”

Seonaid’s partner Anthony Gray, who was at work when the tragedy happened, said she regularly walked the dogs at the nature reserve and was a strong swimmer.

He said: “I explained to Seonaid several times about how dangerous the river could be. It is quite fast flowing there. I can’t see any reason why she would have intentionally made to go into the water.”

Robert Highams, who was walking his own two dogs with Seonaid, said “The dogs were all off the lead. Goose and some of the others went into the water.

“Seonaid was blowing a whistle. We all called Goose. She went down to the river and said she could hear Goose.

“I went down the side calling Goose and then went back to the side where Seonaid was. I started calling her name. Within minutes there was another couple there. We searched around the quayside but there was no sign of her.”

The inquest was told that emergency services were called to the scene and a search was carried out using boats, police divers, a helicopter and a drone.

Three hours later Seonaid’s body was found in the water between a barge and the wall of the jetty.

A post mortem examination revealed her death was as a result of drowning.

Coroner Murray Spittal concluded that the death of Seonaid, who lived at Moulton Seas End, Lincs, was an accident.

The coroner said “She was seen to descend the bank to look for one of her dogs. It is unclear whether Seonaid fell or went deliberately into the water.”