A THREE-year-old boy died when he fell into Kennet and Avon Canal trying to feed ducks in an “extraordinarily tragic” and “unbearable” incident.

Dylan Milsom drowned in the Kennet and Avon canal on a day out to Victoria Park with his family in Newbury on Saturday, March 13.

Ian Wade QC ruled the “dreadful” incident as an accident at an inquest today in which ‘no one was to blame’.

Reading Coroner’s Court heard evidence from multiple eyewitnesses to the incident, including Dylan’s mother and grandmother, two members of the public who tried to help the family, a police officer and a paramedic who attended the scene.

Reading Chronicle: Dylan Milsom. Image via Hyde News. Dylan Milsom. Image via Hyde News.

The first account, from Shelley Nardini, Dylan’s mother, revealed how she had met her mother, Jackie Arrowsmith, at Victoria Park with Dylan and her other son.

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She said Dylan had been saying he wanted to feed the ducks for a “long time”.

After the family had lunch, they walked over the canal to feed the ducks but they were “not interested” as fishermen were distracting them.

They walked back to feed other ducks and Dylan started throwing the bread at them but it was not reaching them.

He went around the side of a gate to get closer to the canal so he could throw the bread to the ducks.

At this point, Shelley had turned back to get another bag of bread.

Her mother, Jackie Arrowsmith, then saw Dylan trip over a large tuft of grass and fall into the canal.

She “screamed” and “fell to the floor” trying to grab her grandson, managing to grasp his hair but unable to hold on.

Hearing her mother’s scream, Shelley turned around and shouted “where’s my boy?”, before realising what had happened and jumping into the water.

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Despite her “prodigious efforts” to save her son, the current was too fast and Shelley was unable to see him.

One eyewitness to the scene described seeing Shelley “hanging on to a branch and screaming.”

She continued: “She started screaming for her son -- it was at that point I realised there was someone else in the water.”

Reading Chronicle: Dylan Milsom. Image via Hyde News. Dylan Milsom. Image via Hyde News.

The woman said she called the emergency services while her partner started running towards the water.

He tried to help Shelley get out of the water in events the man said “felt like a year, but it was actually seconds.”

A police officer later found Dylan in the water after spotting a ‘blue stripe’ in the canal.

He called for other officers to reach his location after spotting Dylan’s silhouette under the water.

The officer dived in and recovered Dylan, but he said as soon as he got out of the water he could “see he wasn’t breathing” and his face was “cold to touch”.

He tried giving the boy CPR but there were “no signs of life”.

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Paramedics arrived at the scene 32 minutes after the first person had called for an ambulance.

According to one paramedic who gave a statement following the incident, Shelley was already out of the water when they had arrived.

Together with other medical professionals, the paramedic arrived at Dylan’s location further down the canal to find him “clearly in cardiac arrest”.

He was rushed to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford where he was pronounced dead.

Judge Wade said this was a “technicality”, however, and told the court he was satisfied Dylan died under the water in Newbury rather than at hospital.

Summing up the investigation, he praised the “prodigious efforts” of Dylan’s family, members of the public and the emergency services in trying to save Dylan.

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He said: “We all do what we can to encourage youngsters to engage with nature.

“Sometimes things go wrong.

“Shelley Nardini only turned away for a minute when Dylan, in his excitement, tripped on the grass and fell into the water.

“Dylan’s grandmother tried to hang onto him but these were dangerous waters and he was swept away.

“He never resurfaced until he was found by police.”

Reading Chronicle:

In her witness statement, Shelley Nardini said she “blamed herself” for the incident, and said she should have “tried harder.”

Judge Wade said he hoped she had “abandoned that idea” as this incident was “nobody’s fault”.

Ruling Dylan’s death as an accident, he continued: “This was an unintended and unwanted accident.

“We do not seek to deny everyone access to nature. It would not have been appropriate if there was any other protection.

“This was one of those dreadful things.

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“The tragedy was unbearable. I extend my sympathies and condolences to the family.

“I hope they will one day come to forget this day and simply remember Dylan as he was before then.”

Judge Wade revealed that following the incident, the Canal and River Trust has been in touch with Laura Farris, the MP for Newbury, West Berkshire Council, and the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service to form a water safety partnership.

The inquest into Dylan Milsom’s death took place on Tuesday, May 18.

In a tribute released after the week following Dylan's passing, his family said: "Dylan was our rainbow baby; and we knew he was special from the moment he was born. He brought a ray of sunshine into our lives.

“Blossoming into a happy, brave, and warm little boy, his brightness simply shone from him wherever he went, always saying hello with a smile to everyone he met. He had an infectious energy for life and poured his heart and soul into everything he did."