Boxer Frank Varey drowned after jumping in river despite not being able to swim

A talented young boxer drowned after his pals begged him not to go into the water as he couldn't swim.

Frank Varey, 16, tragically passed away after trying to cross the River Dee in Chester on 22 July, 2021. Frank was with his friends at a pontoon near The Moorings, an inquest heard on Wednesday.

According to witness statements, as per Cheshire Live, they had been jumping in the water 'to keep cool'. Then some of the friends, including Frank, made the decision to swim across from the city centre side of the river to the Handbridge bank. This is despite the fact that Frank could not swim, according to a statement from his mum Sarah.

Two members of the group of friends had tried to convince Frank, dubbed "a future world champ" in boxing by Tyson Fury, not to go in the water. Witnesses said they saw the youngster almost get across to the other side when he got into trouble.

Friends and bystanders tried to save the teenager, but Frank disappeared under the water. Emergency services were called and a search operation launched, but Frank had sadly passed away. His body was found under the water at 7.58pm, close to where he disappeared. A post-mortem concluded that he died as a result of drowning.

During the inquest in Warrington, assistant coroner for Cheshire Jean Harkin read out a statement from Frank's mum Sarah. She said: "Frank has always been a fit and healthy child apart from having his tonsils removed when he was younger. He attended primary and junior school before becoming a talented boxer.

"Since the age of five, Frank has boxed. He was extremely talented and showed great promise. He was talent spotted and went on to box for England, winning many titles.

"As a result, Frank did not attend secondary school and went into full-time training. Because of Frank's regime he was always conscious of what he put into his body. He ate well and never drank, smoked or took drugs.

"On July 22, she received the call from her husband advising her that Frank had been swimming and had drowned. She confirmed that Frank has been spending the day with friends.

"They were spoken to by police who were searching for Frank and at about 8pm they were told the devastating news that a body had been recovered from the River Dee.

"The last time she saw him alive was the morning of July 22 at home. She and Frank Snr (Frank's dad) were getting ready to go to Whitby. Frank (junior) said he was going to Chester with friends. He often went out to different towns with friends and would meet other friends.

"He wasn't in an unhappy mood. There was nothing out of character and they parted saying they would see each other later that evening. Frank had never been a strong swimmer – he could not swim. He has never had any formal swimming lessons. To the best of her knowledge, he had never been swimming in open water.

"He was at the peak of his boxing potential and was destined for a very bright future. He lived and breathed boxing. He trained daily and loved it. He was happy, fun-loving and Sarah never had any concerns about his mental health.

"As a family, they are still trying to come to terms with Frank being taken away from them so young. She believes this was a very tragic accident because he could not swim."

Ms Harkin also read out a statement from Detective Inspector Robert Lees, of Cheshire Constabulary. He said emergency services were called at around 2.30pm on the day of the incident.

Ms Harkin said: "The circumstances of him being in the water were that he had attended the pontoon with friends to enjoy the river in the hot weather. They were jumping in the river to keep cool.

"Some of them decided to swim across the river from the city centre to the Handbridge side. Frank managed to get most of the way across but then began to struggle with witnesses suggesting he was throwing his arms in the air and shouting for help.

"Others tried to get to him to help him. One witness described how Frank grabbed hold of him and was dragging him under as he was trying to push him to the bank at the side.

"Many others tried to get to Frank but the current dragging Frank under the water was too strong and he (the witness) was unable to hold on to him."

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, Ms Harkin went on to add: "It's clear that Frank Varey was a very talented young man. He had a great skill for boxing and he never caused his parents any concern.

"His mum in her statement confirmed that he could not swim. However, on July 22 2021, he was in the River Dee near to the Royal Chester Rowing Club.

"He was with friends who decided to swim across. He also made that decision to swim across. He had no past medical history which would have affected him that day and the evidence suggests that Frank was nearly there.

"He had swam some distance to get to where he was but then got into difficulty and, despite help from friends and bystanders, they were unable to rescue him."

Heavyweight champion Fury paid tribute to Frank following the tragic accident. "RIP Frank. Was a future world champ," he said.

Source: Read Full Article