Grandmother drowned at Anglesey beach while out with family, inquest hears

The inquest heard how Mrs Cook looked as though "she was not in control of her body".

A grandmother drowned after getting into difficulty at a beach whilst out with her family, an inquest heard.

Irene Cook, 75, had been swimming off Rhosneigr beach on Anglesey with her grandchildren on August 25 last year before she was seen in trouble.

The mother-of-two and grandmother-of-four died the following week at the high dependency unit in Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor.

The inquest heard how Mrs Cook, a retired office manager, was swimming towards Crab Island sandbank where her grandchildren were playing, when the incident occurred.

'It took seconds for me to realise something wasn't right'

Daughter-in-law, Suzanne Johnston, explained how she saw Mrs Cook wading and then swimming to the sandbank, before suddenly "looking as though she was not in control of her body".

Whilst giving evidence, Ms Johnston said: "It took seconds for me to realise something wasn't right. I made my way over to the rocks and started shouting and signalling for help.

"She was on her front so I turned her over and could see she was unconscious. Some paddleboards came over to assist and we tried to place her on the paddleboard which we did partially.

"My brother arrived to help and we got her fully on the paddleboard. He gave her rescue breaths while we made our way back to shore."

Mrs Cook's family are encouraging people to visit the RNLI website for more information on beach safety.

The inquest into Mrs Cook's death was held in Caernarfon on April 27.

Lucy Storey, a doctor for Manchester Foundation Trust who happened to be on holiday at the same time, explained how her brother ran to retrieve a defibrillator whilst others began giving Mrs Cook CPR after they reached the shore.

The coastguard, lifeboat crews, four ambulance vehicles and an air ambulance were all called to the incident and Mrs Cook was airlifted to Ysbyty Gwynedd.

The 75-year-old was put on ventilation, but failed to recover and died on 1 September 2021.

Assistant Coroner Sarah Riley said Mrs Cook appeared to have a sudden medical episode.

"Mrs Cook had been seen walking until the water reached chest height", said Ms Riley.

"She was observed on her back and not to be in control of her body and came to be face down in the water before being brought ashore by family and members of the public, some of whom were medically trained. They carried out CPR until the emergency services arrived at the scene.

"What triggered Irene to become face down in the water is not known but Mrs Cook's daughter has informed me that the medical professionals did not find any medical explanation as to what caused this incident and had made the assumption that Mrs Cook had panicked and taken in a lot of water, which then caused cardiac arrest. There is no evidence to support that assumption as Suzanne did not witness Mrs Cook panicking.

"It is not possible to ascertain what caused her to become submerged in the water. I will record the cause of death as hypoxic brain injury due to drowning."

Ms Riley delivered a narrative conclusion. Following the inquest, Mrs Cook's family thanked the emergency services and warned others to be aware of the risks of swimming in the sea.

They went on to urge everyone to visit the RNLI website for more information on beach safety.