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Inquest into the death of girl, 11, on school trip to Drayton Manor Theme Park

Credit: Staffordshire Police

An inquest has opened into the death of a school who drowned after falling into 12ft of water at Drayton Manor theme park.

Evha Jannath was 'propelled' from a six-seater vessel on Splash Canyon on 9 May, 2017.

She had been on an end-of-year school trip with staff and friends from Jameah Girls Academy in Leicester.

Evha and four friends boarded the boat unsupervised, after a member of staff allocated to look after them stayed with another pupil who did not want to go on the ride.

An inquest heard Evha and other pupils on the circular vessel had been repeatedly standing up, and "reaching into the water", against the rules, before it hit a barrier, sending her head first into the water.

The Spash Canyon ride has been operating since 1993. Credit: ITV News

The inquest at Stafford's County Buildings was told how Evha, who was unable to swim, initially fell into water up to her thighs.

Appearing uninjured, she was then shown on CCTV wading along the edge of the ride route, towards the exit platform, trying to get back to her friends.

Her schoolmates shouted back towards Evha, while a member of the public standing at the ride course's barrier, a few feet above, told her to stop where she was.

The youngster, who was still in the water, carried on wading, and then tried to climb the ride's "travelator" which lifts the ride vessels up out of the water, to an exit platform.

The theme park was closed for several days after Evha's death. Credit: PA

As she climbed the "algae-covered" wooden planks on the mechanism, she fell off the side into a "much deeper" area of water at the park in Tamworth, Staffordshire.

After pupils and members of the public raised the alarm, theme park staff went to the ride and began a search.

Some 11 minutes later, Evha was spotted face down. It was another six minutes before theme park staff were able to pull her out, when she was described as "lifeless".

Despite CPR, and advanced life support by air ambulance medics, she was pronounced dead less than two hours later at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Headteacher Erfana Bora said the teacher acted in line with the school's health and safety policy on the day.

We can't stipulate teachers must be on rides, as there will be instances where some children would not wish to be on the ride, and so in those cases it's safer overall for the teacher to stay with that child... they make the assumption the park staff are responsible for overall safety on that ride."

– Jameah Girls Academy, Headteacher Erfana Bora:
Credit: PA

Opening an inquest into her death on Monday (4 November), assistant coroner for South Staffordshire Margaret Jones said Evha and her friends had been on the ride without incident, accompanied by teachers, earlier that day.

The hearing was told that according to the theme park's ride height restrictions, Evha was allowed aboard the vessel without an adult.

Home Office pathologist, Dr Frances Hollingbury said she had determined a cause of death of drowning, although it was initially recorded as a result of blunt force trauma to the chest.

She added that although Evha suffered multiple rib fractures, she "wouldn't have expected Evha to have died as a direct result of these injuries, without complications".

The inquest continues tomorrow and is due to conclude by the end of the week.