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Canoeist drowns on dry land hours after capsizing on lake


Alan Gough

A businessman drowned on dry land as he was driving home hours after escaping from a capsized canoe.

Alan Gough (57) died from a rare phenomenon known as “secondary drowning” two hours after he swam back to shore after his canoe upturned while on the water in the Lake District in Northwest England.

The condition occurs when water enters the lungs and collects in its numerous air sacs.

Much more common in children, due to their size, this fluid often goes unnoticed until it begins to collect and makes it difficult to breathe.

An inquest into Mr Gough’s death heard that the businessman had managed to swim back to shore after his canoe capsized.

Apart from a minor nosebleed he appeared fine, a friend said.

“He seemed fine, so he dried himself off, got into his car and set off home,” the inquest heard.

But hours later, the father-of-two passed out at the wheel of the Mercedes at the foot of Kirkstone Pass, and the car crashed into a drystone wall.

A post-mortem examination revealed he died from ‘secondary drowning’ – a rare condition that can happen hours after breathing in water.

The inquest was told that Mr Gough had swallowed water after his canoe overturned while on a day trip to Ullswater.

He was pronounced dead at the scene despite efforts to revive him by friend John Robinson, passers-by and paramedics.

In a statement, Mr Gough’s family described him as  the "cleverest person they had known" and said: “All of our friends would have wanted him as their 'phone a friend'. He was extremely well-thought of by all his friends and peers."

Online Editors