Julian Mynott: Father who died trying to save his drowning three-year-old son made "herculean" effort to rescue his children

Father who died trying to save his drowning three-year-old son made 'Herculean' effort to rescue him in family weir tragedy
Julian Mynott dived in to the weir to try and save his three youngstersWitnesses saw strong current rip the lifejackets off of the childrenHe had taken a small boat with his children onto the river behind his home

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UPDATED:

02:58 GMT, 7 December 2012

A father made ‘Herculean efforts’ to save his children from a raging river after their rowing boat capsized over a weir, an inquest heard.

Antiques dealer Julian Mynott could have survived the tragedy but sacrificed his life swimming against a fierce current to try to rescue his three children.

His youngest child, Freddie, aged three, died alongside him, but seven-year-old Archie and Florence, six, survived after being rescued by a neighbour.

Julian Mynott died trying to save his three-year-old son Freddie (pictured) who drowned in a horrible accident on the River Avon in Warwickshire, a coroner said

Julian Mynott died trying to save his three-year-old son Freddie (pictured) who drowned in a horrible accident on the River Avon in Warwickshire, a coroner said

Freddie Mynott (right) died with his father when their boat went over a weir near their home - his brother Archie and sister Florence survived

Freddie Mynott (right) died with his father when their boat went over a weir near their home – his brother Archie and sister Florence survived

'The best father you could have': Julian Mynott with his daughter Florence who he tried to save

'The best father you could have': Julian Mynott with his daughter Florence who he tried to save

Selfless Mr Mynott died in his brave attempt to save his children

Selfless Mr Mynott died in his brave attempt to save his children

The inquest heard Mr Mynott, 42, had
taken his glass-fibre rowing boat onto the River Avon on a Saturday
afternoon in May as his wife, Emma, prepared a meal at their nearby
600,000 home.

He was keen to show his children a
fallen tree, but the treat ended in tragedy when their boat was swept
over the 4ft weir by the fast-flowing current, swollen by days of heavy
rain.

Grieving Emma Mynott, with children Florence, six and seven-year-old Archie, who survived the tragic accident

Grieving Emma Mynott, with children Florence, six and seven-year-old Archie, who survived the tragic accident

Julian and Freddie drowned in a horrible accident on the River Avon in Warwickshire, a coroner has said

Julian and Freddie drowned in a horrible accident on the River Avon in Warwickshire, a coroner has said

Emma Mynott with children Florence, six and seven-year-old Archie, attend the funeral

Emma Mynott with children Florence, six and seven-year-old Archie, attend the funeral

Mrs Mynott, 41, told the coroner Sean
McGovern that she ran out into their garden after hearing a commotion
and saw her husband waist-deep in the water near the upturned vessel.

He tried desperately to swim to his children, but was swept away by the force of the raging river.

Neighbours, alerted by screams, told
the inquest they could see the children’s heads getting dragged under
the surface of the water, occasionally re-emerging as their life-jackets
kept them afloat.

Matthew Macfadyen and his wife
Kirsty, who live on an island opposite the Mynotts, tried to pull the
children out by throwing a rope to them.

But despite getting hold of Florence,
they couldn’t pull her up – the current was so strong it was ripping
her life-jacket off her.

In desperation, Mr Macfadyen said to
his wife: ‘I cannot stand this, I am going to have to go down to them,’
and waded into the river below the weir with a rope tied around his
waist.

Rescue teams search the Avon downstream from where the tragic accident happened

Rescue teams search the Avon downstream from where the tragic accident happened

Support: Residents left floral tributes and cards to pay their respects at the time of the deaths

Support: Residents left floral tributes and cards to pay their respects at the time of the deaths

He battled for five minutes to keep
the two older children afloat, but was repeatedly buffeted by their
splintered boat which eventually tore them from his grasp.

As his strength waned, he shouted to
his wife: ‘I’m almost done in,’ just as residents on the opposite bank
managed to pull the two children out using a rope tied to a tree.

The inquest at Leamington Spa Justice
Centre heard around 50 emergency service workers took part in the
rescue attempt in Barford, Warwickshire.

Although Florence and Archie were
rescued soon after the alarm was raised at 5.30pm, it was not until
8.30pm that Freddie was pulled from the water.

His father’s body was found 90 minutes later, and both were confirmed dead at the scene.

Competent sailor Julian Mynott had taken his children out on to the weir, behind their home, in a boat

Competent sailor Julian Mynott had taken his children out on to the weir, behind their home, in a boat

Detective Sergeant Tim Carter, of
Warwickshire Police, told the hearing the rowing boat had been
‘completely smashed in half’ and its motor has never been found.

Mr McGovern said: ‘Mr Mynott was stood up in the water ten metres away; he could have saved himself, but he chose not to.

‘He died in his attempts to save his children.

‘Many residents did their absolute
best to try to pull the children from the water. Mr Macfadyen in
particular should be recognised for his bravery.’

In her statement read to the court,
Mrs Mynott said her husband – who was the only one not wearing a
life-jacket – was safety-conscious where his children were concerned.
‘They were told never to stand up and to remain seated at all times,’
she said.

Detective Inspector Colin Jones said
the case outlined the ‘Herculean efforts of a father to protect and save
his children in the most challenging and overwhelming of situations’.