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Death in whirlpool is ruled an accident

By West Briton  |  Posted: January 23, 2014

Photographer Jacob Cockle accidently drowned while filming whirlpools in Hayle, an inquest has decided.

Photographer Jacob Cockle accidently drowned while filming whirlpools in Hayle, an inquest has decided.

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A CORONER has issued a warning to others after ruling that a free-spirited photographer accidently drowned while filming whirlpools.

Jacob Cockle, 28, was sucked into sluice tunnels at Carnsew Pool, Hayle, as he attempted to get underwater footage of the dangerous tidal phenomenon.

An inquest at Truro Coroner's Court heard that on May 28 last year he was photographing whirlpools and entered the vortex to get shots of himself with a plastic horse head prop.

As he switched to using an underwater camera on a pole, the current dragged him into a 40ft sluice tunnel.

He resurfaced on the other side, unconscious.

Deputy coroner Andrew Cox recorded a verdict of accidental death and said the risks taken by Jacob, from Hayle, were carefully calculated.

"The evidence we have heard is unusually clear and uncontradictory," he said. "I am entirely satisfied Jacob went down to the harbour in Hayle with the intention of filming whirlpools.

"There's no doubt Jacob was a capable waterman. There was no doubt he was a risk-taker. I accept, however, that all of those risks were not spontaneous or impulsive but were considered.

"I would like these tragic events to be a warning to anyone else contemplating swimming in the same area."

Friend and neighbour David Raine witnessed the accident while helping Jacob film at South Quay, as he had done on many occasions.

Mr Raine said: "He was excited because a whirlpool is at its biggest an hour before high water. He took risks, but I wouldn't say he took risks much more than a young guy of his age who is excited to do things and loves life."

After Jacob failed to resurface for several minutes Mr Raine and a nearby fisherman came to his aid, attempting resuscitation before he was airlifted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, where he was pronounced dead.

A toxicology report found traces of the horse tranquilliser ketamine, which the inquest heard could have affected his cognitive reactions.

Despite signs warning people not to swim, the inquest heard Jacob regularly did so there to film with props picked up from charity shops.

He was severely dyslexic, which his mother Carolyn Sheard said could affect his judgement.

The former Truro College pupil was held in high regard for his surf and adventure photography and films.

Following the inquest, Mrs Sheard said: "Jacob lived life to the fullest. Unfortunately Jacob saw no danger in either people or situations. He has been and still is an inspiration to many people to strive for what they believe in.

"Jacob was a free spirit. We miss him more than words can tell but know his memory will live on."

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