A 14-YEAR-OLD Blacon High School pupil drowned in a French lake while on holiday with friends.
Liam John Paul Manley, 14, of Blacon Point Road, Blacon, was with a friend’s family at Etang Bleu, a British-run campsite in the Dordogne, when he got into difficulties about 40m from the shore at the popular Saint-Estèphe lake.
An inquest into Liam’s death at Chester Magistrates Court yesterday heard Brian Burr and his wife Linda, also of Blacon Point Road, took Liam – a friend of their son – to the French region, where they have a holiday home.
Mr Burr said: “When we arrived at the lake, the two boys went down to the swimming area.
“They decided they would have a race to a pontoon.
“After a short period of time I thought I hadn’t seen Liam so I started to walk down towards the water.
“That’s when I saw my son diving and then waving at me.
“I realised there was a problem so I shouted down the beach ‘a boy’s in trouble’.”
Family friend Michelle Newall, of Laws Gardens, Great Boughton, swam out to the pontoon.
“We dived under the water and covered the area around where the boys were but it was lot deeper than I thought, and a lot dirtier,” she said. “I went back up the beach to find somebody who was an official at the site, a lifeguard, but there wasn’t anybody.”
Other tourists at the popular site helped to look for Liam.
About 40 minutes after Liam had disappeared, emergency services arrived at the lake. Liam’s body was found at about 1.20pm and he was pronounced dead at 2pm.
Liam’s father, Paul John Manley, of Blacon Point Road, Blacon, Chester, a customer advisor for B&Q, said: “He was quite athletic. He did jiu jitsu, football, swimming and basketball.
“A lot of people have been affected by his death.
“He was very popular, he would walk down the street and talk to anybody, he’s not easy to forget.”
Deputy coroner for Cheshire Janet Napier recorded a verdict of accidental death.