Highlands man 'drowned' helping flood-hit neighbours

Bill Hamilton. Pic: Northpix Bill Hamilton was trying to unblock a drain in Smithton

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The family of a man whose body was found in a drain said he died after trying to help his neighbours during severe flooding on Sunday.

Bill Hamilton, 68, had tried to unblock a culvert when floods hit Smithton, near Inverness.

His stepson Steven Ritchie, 34, said Mr Hamilton fell and hit his head before he was swept away and drowned.

Northern Constabulary said it was investigating his death but were not treating it as suspicious.

Highland Council officials have drawn up an action plan to ease the impact of future flooding in Smithton and nearby Culloden.

The local authority said more than 20 homes in the area were affected over the course of Saturday and Sunday, along with properties and roads near Beauly and Castle Stuart.

Mr Ritchie paid tribute to Mr Hamilton.

He said: "We are absolutely devastated.

"The whole place was getting flooded and Bill, being Bill, tried to help out.

"He went to try to unblock the drains, but it seems he fell and banged his head. He ended up in the burn and drowned."

Police said a neighbour had raised the alarm at about 1745 BST on Sunday.

A spokesman said: "We attended and carried out inquiries and searches of the area.

"Sadly, at about 7pm a member of the public found the body of a man matching the description of the man.

"While there appears to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident, we are investigating the death."

Highland Council's action plan followed a meeting between Inverness Provost Jimmy Gray and councillors Roddy Balfour, John Ford, Glynis Sinclair and Robert Wynd.

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