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  1. ITV Report

Teenage death while snorkelling accidental, inquest concludes

The dad of a teenager from Leicestershire who died while snorkelling with dolphins says strong undercurrents were to blame for his death.

Callum Howkins was found an hour after he went missing while snorkelling in Mauritius in 2014. Credit: BPM Media

Callum Howkins, 17, was swimming in Tamarin Bay, Mauritius, on August 29, 2014, while on holiday with his dad, Gavin and Gavin's new wife, Jo, who had married two days earlier.

The teenager and his family had been enjoying a snorkelling trip from a pleasure boat when tragedy struck. Callum, from Hinckley, had returned to the water for a second time when he disappeared from sight.

Realising he was missing, Jo raised the alarm and a search was launched. Callum was found around an hour later by the National Coastguard in deep water.

Dad Gavin says he immediately tried to give him CPR and Callum was transferred to hospital, but he was declared dead by doctors on arrival.

An inquest into Callum’s death concluded that his cause of death was drowning. A narrative verdict of accidental death was recorded.

Callum's father said that he found out at the inquest that Callum was the 14th person to die in the bay that year. He learned that someone had died in the bay two days before and said his family wouldn't have made the trip had they known.

When Callum disappeared it was a matter of seconds. One second he was there, the next, he was gone and we started desperately looking for him.

There should have been someone monitoring passengers at all times - a spotter to keep a look out, but there wasn’t. When it came to raising the alarm, there was no procedure whatsoever. There were so many other boats in the water at the time, in the commotion, people thought we were pointing out dolphins, not trying to look for Callum.

– Callum's dad - Gavin

Gavin said the boat trip was booked through a company attached to the luxury four star hotel they were staying in and the operator was big on the island. He later found out that operator didn’t have a licence to take the boat out with passengers and there were no life jackets, buoyancy aids or oxygen on board.

A post mortem examination conducted at Leicester Royal Infirmary following the repatriation of his body found Callum had no alcohol or drugs in his system and there was no evidence he had struck an object which could have knocked him unconscious.

A summary of the pathology report read by the coroner said he had previously suffered two seizures - once in 2013 and again in 2014. However these were not linked to his death.

Speaking after the inquest, Callum’s mum, Louise, said she was “disappointed with it” and that she still had many questions left unanswered while remaining “devastated and heartbroken by his death”.

She said:

Callum was taken away from me under circumstances which could have been prevented and avoided.

There was no supervision or health and safety in place.

No one has taken any responsibility for Callum’s death and we have no reason as to why he died. He had a big group of friends -both girls and boys - and he was loved by everyone. We are a very close family and he loved being part of that.

Callum always studied hard and he always enjoyed school.

– Callum's mum - Louise