A nine-year-old boy waded into the sea up to his waist to try to rescue his friend who had fallen in, a Llandudno inquest has heard.
The distraught youngster then ran for help and although several attempts at resuscitation were made 13-year-old Dillan Brown died shortly after reaching hospital.
The inquest was told it was unclear how long Dillan had been in the water – one estimate put it at 25 minutes – but Home Office pathologist Dr Brian Rodgers said he would have died quite quickly through inhaling the cold water.
The tragedy occurred on the evening May 4 2019 when Dillan and his young friend went to Pigeon Cove, a popular spot at the foot of a cliff on Llandudno’s Great Orme headland.
The nine-year-old, who cannot be named because David Pujor, assistant coroner for North Wales East and Central, said he had suffered enough trauma, told police that Dillan sat on a rocky ledge dangling his feet in the water, but then slipped and fell about two metres into the rough sea.
The younger boy, whose lower half was soaking after trying to pull him out, then ran back to the road and passers-by went down to the cove, where they found Dillan on the shingle beach, having been washed up by the incoming spring tide.
In fading light they carried out CPR and tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before police officers arrived. The town’s inshore lifeboat was unable to reach the spot and eventually Dillan was airlifted to Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.
Dr Rogers said he had suffered a cardiac arrest but there were no signs of injury and the cause of death was drowning.
Richard Thomas, land agent for Mostyn Estates, which owns the Great Orme, said Pigeon Cove was a popular spot in warm weather and there was a gap in the wall enabling people to gain access to the location.
Asked by the coroner whether he felt any practical steps could be taken to reduce the risk of accidents, such as erecting warning signs, he said the emergency services had never drawn the attention of the committee which runs the Orme Country Park to any major problem there.
Pigeon Cove was heavily used and attracted a lot of people but if we had had any indication from the emergency services regarding signs we would have done it, he said.
“The difficulty we have is how many signs do we put up and where do we identify the risk? We try to be responsible in what we do in in forming the public,” he added.
Recording a conclusion of accidental death, Mr Pojur said it was an unusual set of circumstances and he accepted it was impractical to erect warning signs.
Dillan, of King’s Road, Llandudno, was a pupil at the town’s Ysgol John Bright, and at the time of his death he was described by headteacher Ann Webb as “a much-loved member of the close-knit Ysgol John Bright community and had a very warm, cheerful and loving nature.
“He had a heart of gold and was a very caring and thoughtful son, brother and uncle.”