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Expert surprised by size of fatal pool.

The death of a teenager who drowned on an adventure activities outing was 'unforeseeable', an expert told an inquest jury yesterday. Herve Bola, 16, panicked and drowned within seconds of plunging into freezing water at Sgwd Y Gladys Falls, in the Neath Valley.

The teenager, who lived with his grandmother in Wood Green, north London, was on the first day of a trip organised by the London Borough of Redbridge, in July 2002.

Herve was one among more than a dozen teenage boys on the trip who was staying at Glasbury House, an adventure activity centre in the village of Glasbury, near Brecon.

Marcus Bailie, a risk expert from the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, told the inquest at Neath County Court that the pool where tragedy happened was so small it was 'inconceivable' anyone could drown there.

He was brought in by the South Wales Police to compile a risk assessment report into the circumstances surrounding Herve's death.

He said yesterday that he had been so surprised to see the size of the pool where the death occurred, he thought he was in the wrong place.

In view of its size, the number of people present at the time and the closeness of the pool's edge, he could not believe a person could have drowned there.

'Surely, I thought, someone could not drown in that pool. I was very surprised to find that was the one,' he said.

The inquest heard that his report concluded that 'if it was inconceivable after the event, it was surely unforeseeable before the event'.

During the inquest, which is now into its seventh day, at least six teenagers who were on the outing have given evidence.

All have claimed that youth worker Daniel Brown called on Herve, a non-swimmer, to jump into the water moments before he drowned. Mr Brown denies the allegation.

Mr Bailie, as a result, had drawn up his report looking at the situation from both perspectives: that Mr Brown had called on Herve to jump, and that he had not.

Previously, the jury have heard that vigorous efforts were made by Mr Brown, and others, to save Herve which led Mr Brown himself into difficulty and forced him to leave the pool in exhaustion at one point.

Mr Bailie said in his report of Mr Brown that 'at best he was heroic and at worst ill advised'.

The inquest continues.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 20, 2005
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