Birmingham & Black Country

'Missed' storm warning led to Birmingham soldier's death

Jamie Lee Sawyer Image copyright PA
Image caption Private Sawyer was a Royal Logistic Corps chef serving with 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment battlegroup

The failure to take account of a weather forecast warning of high winds and thunder storms contributed to the drowning of a soldier, a coroner has ruled.

Jamie Lee Sawyer from Birmingham died during a British Army-led kayak training exercise off the coast of Cyprus on 12 March 2015.

The vessel Pte Sawyer was in capsized as it was overcome by large waves.

Coroner Louise Hunt gave a narrative verdict after a three-day inquest.

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One survivor told the court "it could have been any of us that day," as the boat was swamped by waves of up to to 2.5-metres (8ft) high.

An official accident report into the drowning of the 20-year-old found faults and poor practice in the way the course was run.

Two Met Office warnings, advising of thunderstorms in the area, had not been passed to the Army officer overseeing training.

The senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, said the factors that contributed to his death were: "a failure to adequately assess the weather forecast before the event began.

'Feel his loss'

"A failure to ensure thunder storms warnings were provided to the regimental adventure training team."

And "a failure to ensure the generic and dynamic risk assessments covered specific hazards, specifically adverse sea conditions in poor weather."

The kayak instructor was acquitted by a Greek Cypriot criminal court earlier this year because of the weakness of the case against him.

Private Sawyer, a Royal Logistic Corps chef serving with 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment battlegroup, was hit by a large wave.

He then resurfaced "face-down" and was eventually rescued but died later in hospital.

Speaking after the verdict, Pte Sawyer's mother Tracy said she had finally got answers.

She added: "We are deeply proud of him and feel his loss deeply."

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