Community stunned by River Avon deaths

By Kevin Unitt 18/05 Updated: 21/05 14:08

Buy photos » Julian Mynott and son Freddie. (s)

A DREAM turned into a nightmare for a family when a devoted father and his young son died in a boating accident on the River Avon.

Julian Mynott, 42, and three-year-old son Freddie lost their lives when their small motorboat capsized on the river in Barford, close to their home in High Street, at around 5.30pm on Saturday evening (May 12).

Also in the boat were his six-year-old daughter Florence and seven-year-old son Archie, pupils at Warwick Preparatory School, who were both rescued after the fibreglass boat was swept over a three metre high weir in what emergency services described as “white water conditions” on the fast-flowing and swollen river.

Florence suffered a heart attack and was given CPR by her rescuers on the riverbank before being taken to nearby Warwick Hospital by ambulance. She was transferred to Birmingham Children's Hospital where she is reported to be in a “serious but stable" condition. Archie has now been released from hospital.

Mr Mynott, a successful antiques dealer in Warwick, had only recently moved to the village with his family, and had only recently bought the boat. His 41-year-old wife Emma was not on board the boat and has asked for privacy as she mourns.

She added: “We are all devastated by what has happened, but I want to thank my neighbours and all the people from the community who have helped and offered support, and the many people who have sent good will messages.

“I would also like to express my immense gratitude to everyone involved in the massive effort on Saturday evening to rescue my family."

Mr Mynott's 69-year-old father Roger, a widower who now lives in Thailand, spoke to his son just hours before the tragedy.

He added: “It was his dream to go boating on the river. He bought a boat because he thought the kids would love to go out on the river. I never worried about the children because I knew Julian was a safety freak.

“He spent whatever life he had left in himself trying to rescue those children.”

Mr Mynott and Freddie were both declared dead at the scene after their bodies were recovered from the river in the following hours by a search team - which included over 40 firefighters, police, the air ambulance, paramedics, together with local residents.

Police paid tribute to the response of villagers, saying their support was "unparallelled".

Insp Adrian Davis added: "Members of the community came forward with offers of equipment to assist in the rescue and recovery operation, others provided hot drinks and food, and others provided facilities for the emergency crews to use."

Asst Ch Fire Officer Jim Onions, of Warwickshire Fire Service, said it was a " terrible, traumatic incident" and added some emergency service workers had been in tears.

For more tributes and pictures turn to page 5.

Buy photos» ABOVE Tributes laid at the old Barford bridge overlooking the Avon. Photo by Jon Mullis. 20.012.017.leam.jm1

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