Family’s concerns over lack of warning signs at Cotswold Water Park lake where mechanic died

THE family of a ‘strong swimmer’ who died in a lake at the Cotswold Water Park in July told a coroner of their concerns about the lack of warning signs at the water’s edge.

Members of Swindon-born mechanic Cory Nicholson’s family were at a hearing at Gloucestershire coroner’s court for final arrangements to be made for a full inquest lasting two days next spring.

Cory went into the lake for a swim on the afternoon of July 23 but got into difficulties and died despite the efforts of other swimmers and then the emergency services to save him. He was later recovered from the water by divers.

He was originally from Marlborough but had recently moved to Calne.

Reports at the time that he had gone into the water to try to save his dog were later found to be untrue.

Gloucestershire coroner Katy Skerrett ruled she will empanel a jury to consider the inquest and she estimated it will last two days. She said she will be calling at least four eye witnesses and seven professionals such as police and doctors.

She reminded everyone present at this week’s pre-inquest review hearing that her responsibility is to conduct a fact-finding exercise and not a fault-finding one.

Barrister Bernard Thorogood, representing the district council, said: “It appears that Cory was a strong swimmer and that he got into difficulties before going under

“Another experienced swimmer has explained that when you suddenly hit cold water from comparably warm water, your body could become paralysed.

“The temperature of the lake that day was said to be at 20 degrees centigrade, but evidence suggests that it was a lot colder.

“One of the search divers had a GPS locator attached to him and this can be used to establish whereabouts in the lake the body of Cory was found.

“It can also be plotted against the known point where he was last seen and calculate the currents in the lake.”

Ms Skerrett said: “I’m not requesting an expert (to give evidence) in this instance, but I’m not prohibiting anybody consulting with experts in their field.”

The court was told the lake site is owned by Cotswold Country Park and Waterland Outdoor Pursuits, with a subsidiary, Planning Solutions having responsibility for the banks.

Dennis Davies, a spokesman for the family, told the coroner there is a lack of signage as to where safe swimming could take place.

He added: “From the direction Cory would have approached there was no signage along the water’s edge.”

Cory’s sister, Rebecca Little, said that the day after the tragedy people had ignored what signage there was and were seem swimming in an area that had been designated as not being safe.

Ms Little requested an extra independent witness, whom she named only as ‘Agnes’, should be contacted by the coroner and masked to give evidence at the hearing.

The coroner said the inquest would be a two-day hearing before a jury and would be held at a date to be fixed between March and May next year.

‘A complete and utter family man’

Caring Cory, who kept a number of pets, including lizards, was originally from Marlborough but had recently moved to Calne at the time of his death.

In a statement issued soon after he died, his family said he loved working as a volunteer with his local fire and rescue service as well as helping out a charity supporting people with Down’s Syndrome.

They described him as a “complete and utter family man.”

Their full statement said “Cory was tragically taken from us too soon, he was a wonderful man who was loved by everyone, he was fun, caring and so talented.

“Known for his love for all animals including exotic ones; he had quite a pet collection of lizards, stick insects, spiders and many more. He was a keen car enthusiast, spending much of his time at car shows and customising his hot rod car with his dad.

“He achieved so much in his short 21 years of life and always wanted the best things in life. He was lucky enough to be chosen and graduated the Mercedes apprenticeship, selected out of 30,000 applicants, which was the foundation of his career as a mechanic.

“He was a complete and utter family man. He’d been enjoying becoming an uncle over the last couple of years and his nieces absolutely adored him. He loved a family gathering, always the one with the smile that lit up the room.

“His love extended to friends, of which he had so many, and even strangers.

“Working with his local fire and rescue service Cory supported them with their Salamander initiative which helps young people in Swindon and Wiltshire providing them with life skills and helping them gain confidence.

“He also enjoyed spending time with the Swindon Down’s Syndrome charity group, they were always overjoyed and excited to see him.”

This is Wiltshire

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