Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Ex-Royal Marine died after river slip in Canada

A former diver in the Royal Marines lost his footing while fly fishing in a river in Canada and was swept to his death, an inquest has heard.

Dr David Bennetts was fishing in the Chilliwack River in Fraser Valley, British Columbia, when he slipped and his waders filled with water in August.

The 63-year-old, from Church Crookham, Hampshire, could not save himself from the strong current.

North Hampshire coroner Andrew Bradley recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Dr Bennetts, a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and formerly a principal of the Met Office College, was on holiday with his wife Pauline when the accident happened.

Dangerous currents

He had been a member of the Marines' elite Special Boat Service and was a strong swimmer.

No-one saw Dr Bennetts fall into the water, the inquest heard, but two people heard his cries for help and called the rescue services.

He was finally stopped by a log jam but drowned before help could arrive, the inquest was told.

Mrs Bennetts said it was a beautiful sunny day when he decided to go fishing on 4 August.

Although she had heard a helicopter, she did not realise it was connected to her husband, she said.

Mrs Bennetts later went down to the water to find her husband at lunch time but could not find him.

She told the hearing she saw a sign saying 'dangerous currents' and returned to the campsite.

'Very fit'

A Canadian Mountie then knocked on the couple's campervan door and told her someone had been swept away.

"I could not believe it was David," she said.

"He was very fit. He was a diver and a swimmer. I just didn't believe it. I was having none of it."

She told the inquest that the day before the couple had taken a trip with a guide in a flat-bottomed boat nearby.

"David was really, really excited and happy," she said.

"He had a really good day. It was thunderstorming but he didn't notice, he was so happy."

She said her husband had liked fishing since childhood but had taken it up seriously again about four years before his death.

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