Rotherham schoolboy drowned in Ulley Reservoir 'after losing game of rock-paper-scissors'

Sam Haycock, who drowned at Ulley Reservoir
Sam Haycock died at Ulley Reservoir while celebrating the end of the school term

A teenage boy who drowned in a South Yorkshire reservoir jumped in after losing a game of rock-paper-scissors, an inquest has heard.

Sam Haycock, 16, from Rotherham was at Ulley Reservoir with friends celebrating the end of term on the afternoon of 28 May last year when he drowned "cannonballing" from a nearby bridge.

An inquest at Doncaster Coroner's Court heard that Sam was a popular boy who had recently been diagnosed with autism and other complex medical problems and was unable to swim.

Senior coroner Nichola Mundy heard evidence that Sam and his friends had been "egging" each other on about who would jump into the freezing water first.

Police were called to Ulley Reservoir in Rotherham around 3pm on 28th May 2021

In the end the group of boys, none of whom were strong swimmers, agreed for two of them to play rock-paper-scissors.

Sam jumped in after losing and immediately started panicking. One of his friends then jumped in to try to save him.

Witness Craig Pennington, said: "I could hear what sounded like young lads laughing and joking around.

"I could see four teenage boys, it sounded like they were getting more excitable. It appeared like they were egging each other to jump into the water.

"One of the teenagers then started shouting, 'Help me, help me'. I went to see what was happening not realising the urgency until I got next to the side of the bridge. It all happened so quickly."

Sam Haycock with his mother, Gaynor Credit: Family photograph

Mr Pennington said he managed to help Sam's friend out of the water.

He added: "He kept saying, 'Where's my mate, where's my mate?'"

Another man, Conna Lee King added: "I heard one of the teenage voices shouting: 'I'm drowning, I'm drowning.'"

"I replied saying I would go in but I couldn't swim. It all happened so fast."

The court heard a throw line was unsuccessfully used to try to rescue Sam.

Emergency services arrived at the scene and a firefighter leapt in to try to find Sam but by then it was too late and his body was recovered later.

Kevin Burke, countryside and ecology manager for Rotherham Council, was asked by the coroner about why floating rings were not available.

Sam's family are campaigning for more accessible lifesaving equipment near waterways

He said it was difficult as they were quite heavy to throw and could be mis-used by swimmers.

He said the water was 26-30ft deep at its deepest and although the first few inches would be relatively warm near the surface, below that it was incredibly cold.

Ms Mundy concluded that Sam died from drowning and his death was an accident.