Cecil's parents tell inquest how tragedy unfolded on town jetty
parents of four-year-old Dylan Cecil, who drowned after being
swept out to sea on a visit to Burnham-On-Sea last August, have
relived the heart-breaking moment their son disappeared beneath
Dylan was playing with his two sisters and a cousin on the jetty
when he was swept away as waves crashed over the tarmac surface.
parents, Rachel McCollum and Darren Cecil's son, told an inquest
into Dylan's death in Taunton on Thursday (February 28th) that
they dived in after him, but had to be rescued themselves as extremely
strong currents made it almost impossible for them to keep their
heads above water.
Dylan's lifeless body was discovered four days later when a beach
walker noticed what appeared to be a child "sleeping on the
sand" near the town's sailing club.
Ms McCollum told the inquest that the family, who were on holiday
from Kettering, had been visiting her parents at the time of the
tragedy on August 19th, had returned to Burnham beach for the
The court heard Dylan wanted to see the sea, and so they began
to walk down the jetty where many older children were already
In a statement read in court, Ms McCollum said: "I turned
around and saw Dylan was still jumping in the water. He had moved
towards the edge of the jetty."
"He was jumping and laughing. But he suddenly went into the
water. I heard a plop. I couldn't believe it was him."
Cecil immediately jumped in to rescue his son, and was followed
close behind by Ms McCollum while shocked onlookers raised the
was shouting: 'My boy, he's gone'. I realised how strong the current
was, it felt like a whirlpool."
Cecil said he was barely able to take breath as he battled to
stay afloat in the water in his bid to locate his son under the
He also described how he was so tired he almost surrendered himself
to the sea. "I couldn't feel the bottom of the sea with my
feet," he said in a statement read out at the hearing."
"I managed to get my head above the surface of the water.
I was looking around, I couldn't see Dylan. I saw Rachel jump
in. I can remember her shouting: 'Where's Dylan gone?'"
"All my energy had gone trying to fight against the current.
I remember saying 'I'm gone.' I really thought I was going to
He said he thought he heard Ms McCollum scream out to him not
to die. "I then saw my little girl on the jetty," he
said. "That must have given me a second lease of life."
couple were pulled from the sea and taken to safety as the Coastguard
started a huge search for Dylan.
Alyn Pritchard, who was on a day-visit from mid-Glamorgan in South
Wales, said he heard Ms McCollum calling to her son - just a short
distance from her at the time - to keep to the left and away from
the water's edge.
said: "You could see the little boy was jumping. But when
he jumped the once, he went straight down the side and he never
inquest heard that the tide often washes over part of the concrete
jetty, which is about 150m long and nearly 6m wide.
hearing also heard that the jetty could sometimes give a false
impression of where it ended and the water's edge began.
body was discovered on August 23 by walker Peter Derham near the
Derham told police: "It was as though the sea had given the
boy back and was there for someone to find him. It was as though
he was sleeping on his side."
Michael Rose recorded a verdict of accidental death by drowning
and said the incident had been a tragedy, and absolved the parents
of any blame.
said: "It is something that could happen to any parent. One
only hopes it is a nightmare you can wake from."