Inquest told of Leicestershire dive rescue struggle

Divers struggled to rescue a colleague from a flooded quarry in Leicestershire, an inquest has heard.

James Askew, 35, was on a course at the National Diving Centre at Stoney Cove near Stoney Stanton when he went missing on 24 January 2009.

Leicester Coroner's Court heard David Fitzsimmons, who was on a separate course, saw Mr Askew on his back without a mask or regulator.

Mr Fitzsimmons said he could not pull him to the surface and called for help.

The 12.5-acre quarry, which has different shelves in it meaning people can dive to depths between six metres (20ft) and 35 metres (115ft), is used both for recreational dives and as a site for dive schools to carry out training courses.

Emergency signal

Mr Askew was under the tuition of Olympic Scuba, a professional diving school based in Durham.

Mr Fitzsimmons told the inquest, at which Mr Askew's parents were both present, he was at a depth of about 22 metres (72ft) when he saw some activity below.

He said: "One diver was simply lying on his back on my recollection, with no regulator in his mouth, one fin on and no mask.

"The second diver was attempting to perform a lift, presumably to bring him to the surface."

He continued: "It was more an attempt to drag him along the bottom."

Mr Fitzsimmons said he tried to lift Mr Askew himself but was unable to, so released two inflatable buoys which signalled to people on the surface that they had found the missing diver.

A post-mortem examination found Mr Askew had drowned and showed there were no traces of alcohol or drugs in his system.

The hearing continues.

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