Death of kayaker on a Northampton lake was accidental drowning

Northampton County Hall
Northampton County Hall

A man who drowned while kayaking with his two sons in a Northampton lake was “fit, adventurous and an experienced sailor”, his family have said.

An inquest into the death of Carl Wright, from Banbury Close, in West Hunsbury, Northampton, confirmed that his death was caused by drowning after his kayak capsized in Sixfields Lake on the afternoon of July 30 this year.

He had been on the lake with his two sons, Alexander and George, while they tested out the kayak to see if they wanted to buy more to take on a family trip.

A statement from Carl’s father, Ernest Wright, read: “He always lived life to the fullest and has sailed the English Channel twice.

“He regularly cycled to our home and came over for lunch that day. Before he left we reminded him to come back to ours for a barbeque than afternoon and he said, ‘see you later’.”

Although the reason for the accident is unknown, Northampton General Hospital pathologist, Dr Szuts, said it was possible that the Mr Wright experienced the shock of the cold water entering his airways on a hot day.

This could have prevented him from releasing the safety mechanism on the kayak’s spray deck, which is the stretched material that prevents water getting into the craft and also attaches the kayaker to it.

During an inquest into his death at County Hall, senior coroner for Northamptonshire, Anne Pember, recorded an accidental death.

A statement from the 57-year-old’s son, Alexander, said: “The three of us took it in turns to row to the end of the lake and back. We hadn’t seen dad practise capsizing before, but we knew he would be capable if it rolled.

“We saw dad while he was on the water and he seemed ok, but when we lookeed again soon after, he wasn’t there.”

The inquest heard that Alexander and George were concerned when Mr Wright has later coming back to shore than they had expected.

Alexander continued: “When we looked back we saw police had arrived and were running along the lake. We ran over and saw the kayak washed up and overturned.

“A fire officer told us that dad had drowned, but we weren’t allowed to see him.”

The emergency services were called by Brian Garbutt, of Malcolm Drive in Duston in Northampton, when he spotted the capsized kayak in the lake while out walking his dog.

His statement read: “I saw someone kayaking and then, an hour later, we saw the boat again but it was overturned, with one of the oars floating away and what looked like a sleeve or part of a life jacket coming out of it. As it came closer to the water’s edge we could see a head and arms.

“It must have been a tragic accident and my thoughts go out to his family and friends.”