A 13-year-old boy who could not swim drowned after he jumped into a canal in an attempt to conquer his fear of water, an inquest heard yesterday.
Rafael Pizarro jumped into the Rochdale Canal in Middleton, Greater Manchester, at the same time as his friends after they did a countdown together.
But the teenage schoolboy panicked when he found himself in the middle of the 9ft-wide canal and began flailing his arms and gasping for breath.
Despite attempts by three of his friends to save him, Rafael disappeared under the surface and was pulled out 20 minutes later by a passer-by.
He died in hospital nine days after the plunge with his family at his bedside.
At an inquest Rafael's mother Maria called on the Canal & River Trust to do more to warn young people of the dangers of jumping into water after it emerged there were no warning signs.
The hearing was told the tragedy occurred during hot weather on June 5 when Rafael and his friends were playing by the canal.
The youngster, who attended St Anne's Academy in Middleton, had earlier been playing football at a classmate's house.
They then got a Snapchat message and a photo of two other friends with their feet in the water with the caption 'someone meet us.'
The pair then joined three girls all aged 13 who were already at the canal's edge by Lock 62.
Detective Sergeant Timothy O'Callaghan of Greater Manchester Police said: ‘June 5 was a particularly hot and sunny day and a number of school children had been jumping and backflipping from the canal - in particular off the bridge.
‘The five of them were discussing entering the water again and Rafael said he was going to go into the canal in his boxer shorts.
‘He went down the ladder to the water level which was around one foot below the canal bank to test the temperature of the water.
‘Rafael went in to his stomach area and came back up the ladder and told the other children that he will jump in.
‘The children were lined up on the edge of the canal and shouted “three, two, one” and the two girls and Rafael jumped at the same time.
‘They came up but Rafael was last and in the middle of the canal which is around nine feet wide. Rafael was gasping for breath and flinging his arms around panicking.
‘The two girls swam to him and tried to help, however, Rafael was pulling them and pushing on their heads and these actions were causing the girls to go under the water.
‘The other boy also tried to assist but was being pushed under the water himself.
‘Rafael went back under for around five seconds, came back up took another breath and then went back under the water and didn't come back up.’
The girls called for help as further attempts were made to save Rafael. Two passers-by dived in but were unable to locate the boy.
He was found when the lock was opened allowing the canal water to escape.
He was given mouth to mouth resuscitation by police and paramedics who arrived at the scene before rushed to Manchester Royal Infirmary but he died on June 14.
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