Boy found drowned in lake by his father during holiday at caravan park

Boy found drowned in lake by his father during holiday at caravan park

One-year-old boy was found drowned in lake by his father during holiday at caravan park after toddler opened locked door as family slept, inquest hears

  • Corey James Holland was 16 months old when he drowned in lake in Cheshire
  • Tragic toddler was seen by two witnesses who assumed he was with a guardian
  • Coroner at Warrington Coroner’s Court concluded death was a tragic accident

A 16-month-old boy drowned in a lake at a caravan park after opening a locked door and wandering off as his parents slept, an inquest has heard. 

Corey James Holland was found face up in the water by his father Phillip Holland after he woke up to find his son missing from his travel cot. 

The tragic accident occurred at the Lakeside Caravan Park in Winsford, Cheshire, during a family holiday with the boy’s grandparents in August 2019. 

Two witnesses who saw the baby wandering ‘assumed he was walking towards someone’ or that he was with a family member, Warrington Coroner’s Court heard.

The family, from Wirral, including Corey’s mother Kimberley Mackenzie and his three older siblings, had all had enjoyed dinner and were watching television on a pull-out bed before Phillip put Corey down in his travel cot.   

In a statement from the father, read out by senior coroner for Cheshire Alan Moore, Phillip said he checked on Corey when he put the older children to bed and that he was ‘fast asleep’.

He added that the boy would ordinarily sleep in the same room as him and his partner, however this time the couple fell asleep on the pull out bed in the living room. 

Corey James Holland, just 16 months old, drowned in a tragic incident at the Lakeside Caravan park in Cheshire in August 2019

He said he ‘wished he could change things’. 

Phillip woke up at around 8am on August 22 and realised Corey was not in his bed and that one of the caravan doors next to his room was slightly ajar.  

Phillip said he had checked the caravan door was locked before falling asleep and that the family were unaware he knew how to unlock it.    

After seeing Corey was not in his bed, Phillip woke up Kimberley before the family began frantically searching for him.

According to his statement, Phillip asked a woman whether she had seen a baby and she said she had.

Phillip then asked her why she hadn’t picked up the 16-month-old as he was ‘just a baby’, she replied ‘I don’t know’.

He soon found Corey face up in the water near to a jetty and rushed to pull him out.   

The court heard how one witness saw a baby wearing pyjamas walking in between the caravans at around 8.20am, but he assumed someone was watching him.

At around 8.30am another witness – who Phillip spoke to on the day of the incident – said she saw a toddler near to one of the caravans adjacent to the lake but could not tell if it was a boy or girl.

She said she assumed that they were ‘walking towards someone’ or to one of the caravans and said it was ‘only a couple of seconds’ she saw him as she decided to make a cup of tea.

The caravan site resident said she then heard shouting and and saw a man, woman and three other children who were ‘running in different directions’. 

She asked the man if he was looking for someone and he said ‘yes the baby, the baby’.  

The woman said in her statement she later heard a man shout ‘help me, help me’ and when she looked out of her kitchen window she could him walking up and carrying something on his shoulder.

She said it was then she knew ‘something terrible had happened’ as the baby did not appear to be moving and she called for an ambulance.

Warrington Coroner’s Court heard how the little boy managed to unlock the caravan door and wander off before being found face up in the water by his father 

The woman said she was ‘devastated’ to find the baby had died later that day.

The court heard how a maintenance manager of the site also carried out CPR before an ambulance crew arrived and took over.

An ambulance crew rushed to the scene and began performing CPR on Corey, who was in cardiac arrest.

The crew then started performing advanced life support, which includes opening up the airway, giving oxygen and administering drugs such as adrenaline. 

Corey was rushed to Leighton Hospital in Crewe, however senior paramedic James Fowles told the court that there was no rhythm to his heart in the ambulance nor when he arrived at hospital.

Doctors and medics took over resuscitation, however despite their best efforts Corey was pronounced dead at 10.14am.

Detective Inspector Stuart York of Cheshire police told the inquest he found no evidence of third party involvement or suspicious circumstances.

Det Insp York added it was not known whether Corey went into the water out of his own ‘inquisitiveness’ or fell in, as no one had seen him by the water.

He said: ‘I am satisfied that the evidence pointed to being a tragic accident.’

At the hearing, Corey’s grandfather James Holland asked the coroner to clarify whether an on-site defibrillator could have made a difference.

Corey was rushed from the caravan park to Leighton Hospital in Crewe, however senior paramedic James Fowles told the court that there was no rhythm to his heart in the ambulance nor when he arrived at hospital

Mr Moore said according to the evidence from paramedics, due to there not being a shock-able heart rhythm for Corey, a defibrillator would not have worked.

Mr Holland added that if there wasn’t a defibrillator on site there ‘needs to be one’ as it is a family caravan park.

He added: ‘We do not want anyone else to go through what this family has gone through.’

Concluding the inquest, coroner Alan Moore recorded the medical cause of death was ‘consistent with drowning’.

Mr Moore said: ‘I conclude that Corey died as a result of an accident. A very tragic accident.

‘I want to say how incredibly brave you have been today and not just today, as I know you have lived with this for a long time.

‘You’re a lovely family and I can see that.’

The coroner said he would also write a report to ‘the right people’ of the caravan park and the local council highlighting what has happened, but emphasised that an inquest has ‘no power’ to change things, but can highlight them.

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