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Victims of the floods: Inquests held into deaths of two men
TWO men died in treacherous floodwaters that swept across Oxford in January, separate inquests were told yesterday.
Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard how Gabriel Stocks, 47 from Wheatley, and Ian Taylor, 73, right, from West Oxford, died within days of each other when parts of the city and surrounding areas were covered with water.
Retired management consultant Mr Taylor was cycling in Godstow Road, Wytham, on the morning of January 8 when he came off his bike into 3ft of water on flooded road.
University students Yogesh Keswani and Amol Mishra saw Mr Taylor, who lived with his wife Karen in Abbey Road, and went to help.
Mr Keswani said in a statement that as Mr Taylor cycled past they warned him that the water was deep and the current was strong but he said “I will try my luck” and rode past.
But Mr Taylor fell and went under the water, said Mr Keswani.
He said: “The water was about 3ft and his face was under water.
“We grabbed him but he was unresponsive. He did not seem to be conscious or breathing and at that point the water was fast flowing and cold.”
Both students raised the alarm and tried to help resuscitate Mr Taylor, the court was told.
The inquest heard that Mr Taylor had cycled past a road closure sign that may not have been positioned in the middle of the road at the time.
Godstow Road at Wytham where cyclist Ian Taylor died
Mr Taylor was declared dead at the John Radcliffe Hospital at about 1.30pm and consultant pathologist Dr Ben Phillips said the cause of death was drowning, with ischaemic heart disease a contributing factor.
Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter recorded in his verdict that Mr Taylor died as a result of an accident.
Following the inquest, Mr Taylor’s wife Karen said: “Ian’s death was a terrible shock and a great loss to me, and those who knew and loved him.
“My thanks go to the many people who tried so hard to save Ian at the scene, including the five members of the public, the police, the ambulance service, the air ambulance and later the medical staff at the John Radcliffe.
The court heard four days earlier Gabriel Stocks, a retired engineer from Kelham Hall Drive, Wheatley, died after falling into the River Thames while on his mobility scooter near Osney Lock.
Mr Stocks, who was single and had multiple sclerosis, was spotted by passer-by Malcolm Plaisted, who was walking along the towpath. Mr Plaisted, the inquest heard, got help from the Punter pub and the lock-keeper.
He told the court in a statement: “The lock-keeper had hold of me and I managed to get the person half out of the river.
Paramedics then attempted to revive Mr Stocks and he was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7.30pm.
Consultant pathologist Prof Ian Roberts carried out the post-mortem and said the cause of death was drowning with multiple sclerosis as a contributing cause.
The towpath at Osney, where Gabriel Stocks fell from his mobility scooter
Mr Stocks’ carer Wendy Tattersall, who had visited him earlier that day, told the court he had seemed distressed before asking her to put his high visibility jacket on the back of his mobility scooter because he was going out.
She added on this occasion he was more agitated than usual.
Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter told the hearing that letters were found on Mr Stocks’ mobile phone and email account with a “strong inference” that he intended to take his own life.
But Mr Salter said there was not enough evidence to conclude that Mr Stocks intended to take his own life that night and recorded an open verdict.
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