Fishing pair described as 'heroes' as inquest into canal tragedy opens

Tributes on the canal at Cooper Bridge
Tributes on the canal at Cooper Bridge

A woman discovered her husband and son had drowned while magnet fishing when she rang her spouse's phone and the police answered, an inquest heard

Angela Andrews was concerned that husband Martin Andrews and son Jack had not returned from their fishing trip when she called.

Father and son Martin, 43, and Jack, 19, are believed to have been trawling the bottom of the canal with a magnet when they lost their lives on June 16.

The pair had gone out early that morning and Angela had expected them home at lunchtime.

At an inquest today (Tues), coroner Paul Dennison said: “The police were alerted by a member of the public after a number of personal items were found on the canal bank.

“The police arrived at the scene at the Cooper Bridge area where a mobile phone was ringing.

“An officer answered and spoke to Mr Andrew's wife who was calling because she was concerned of their whereabouts.

“She said they had gone out magnet fishing at 6.30am and she was expecting them home at around lunchtime.”

Speaking prior to the inquest, Angela Andrews, 44, described her husband and son as “heroes”.

However, she explained her tragic last words to the pair were “don’t go into the water.”

Martin and Jack Andrews were found by police divers at 7pm on June 16, after a local dog walker spotted their belongings on the canal bank at Cooper Bridge near Brighouse

Angela said: ''I feel like I've been robbed of my future.

"I told them that when I went to see them at the chapel of rest, like how, how can you just leave us like that.

''I never got to kiss him goodbye that morning cos I was in the shower when they left.

"And my last words were 'stay safe, be careful - don't go in the water'.

“But somehow - they did end up in the water. Their bodies were found a few hours later.

''They were together, in the bottom of the lock. Round each other, so it looked like, one had fallen in, the other had gone after.

“They're both heroes to me, they've tried to save each other.''

Martin and Jack had only recently discovered magnet fishing - and had bonded over collecting many old an unusual items.

Angela said: ''It came about because my brother came across a bottle - an old glass bottle - in the river and really wanted to find out about it, and he thought I wonder what else we could find.

“So we got the magnets, magnet fishing, and it properly brought them together.''

Angela said she is taking comfort from the community - including efforts to fundraise for their funerals.

She said: ''The support has been overwhelming. I’ve not opened any cards yet. For the reason that they started arriving on Father's day.''

She said every Father's Day will be a reminder of the tragedy - but also a reminder of the bond between Martin and Jack - who died doing something they loved.

She added: "That's one of the things making me feel strong. I know they were together. And they had hours of fun before the tragedy happened.''

The police summoned the underwater search team who retrieved the fully submerged bodies of Martin and Jack at 7pm.

They were tragically pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics at 7.15pm.

Coroner Peter Merchant confirmed the cause of death was drowning after a post-mortem was carried out on the bodies by Dr Lisa Barker on June 19.

The inquest was adjourned until a later date.