Belfast Telegraph

Two weeks to find Northern Ireland swimmer death witness

Police trying to trace man at scene of pool tragedy

By Victoria Leonard

A coroner has given police two weeks to trace an unidentified member of the public who checked on the welfare of a 20-year-old Armagh man who died after a swimming pool training session last summer.

Christopher Rogers (20) passed away on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at Craigavon Area Hospital after feeling unwell following a training session at Orchard Leisure Centre the previous night.

In an initial post mortem, the pathologist described the cause of death as "unascertained".

During a preliminary hearing yesterday, Coroner Joe McCrisken revealed that a member of the public, who he referred to as "a gentleman," was asked to check on Mr Rogers by a lifeguard.

However, a police officer told the court that this individual had not been traced.

"We haven't been able to identify a member of the public in the pool who was asked to check on the welfare of Mr Rogers," he stated. "We did speak to lifeguards to see if they could remember the man."

Giving the police 14 days to carry out further enquiries, Mr McCrisken said it might be necessary to "put some type of notice in the Press".

Two witness statements from lifeguards are also outstanding.

"I would like to h ave the identity of that individual, because then we have the lifeguard's point of view and the CCTV, and it would be interesting to know what he saw when he was in the water," he added.

Mr McCrisken described CCTV footage of the pool tragedy as "one of the most difficult pieces of evidence I have ever had to watch" in his role as a coroner.

He said that the footage had not yet been shown to Mr Rogers' family to avoid causing them "additional grief and trauma above that which they have already suffered".

Mr McCrisken said he intended to meet with the family and that, if they wished to see the footage, it should be done with "further supportive measures in place".

He revealed that underwater CCTV footage existed which showed Mr Rogers before he was taken from the pool, and also when he was taken away.

The footage also shows the member of the public "check on" Mr Rogers.

It emerged that the Health and Safety Executive is now investigating the incident.

Mr McCrisken said that Mr Rogers' hospital notes and records did not seem to show anything "particularly relevant".

The family's solicitor said that, since the tragedy, other members of the Rogers family had tested negative for cardiac conditions.

Mr McCrisken said his preliminary view was that an inquest would be "a useful way to address some of the concerns" of the Rogers family over the death.

Belfast Telegraph


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