Tragic teenager Sam Haycock jumped into Ulley Reservoir after losing "rock, paper, scissors" game, inquest hears

Tragic teenager Sam Haycock jumped into Ulley Reservoir after losing "rock, paper, scissors" game, inquest hears

By Jill Theobald | 03/02/2022

Tragic teenager Sam Haycock jumped into Ulley Reservoir after losing 'rock, paper, scissors' game, inquest hears

A TEENAGER drowned after jumping into a reservoir when he lost a game of “rock, paper, scissors” with his mates, an inquest heard.

Sam Haycock, who died at Ulley Reservoir last May, had recently been diagnosed with autism, which meant he had no “concept of fear or danger”, Doncaster Coroner’s Court heard.

The Doncaster Coroner, Ms Nicola Mundy recorded a verdict conclusion of “accidental death” on 16-year-old Sam, of East Dene..

Despite a “very brave” friend also jumping off the bridge road over the reservoir to try and save him, Sam — who could not swim — drowned after getting into difficulty in what Ms Mundy described as “freezing water”.

A friend told the hearing Sam (pictured) had “cannon-balled” off the bridge on Friday, May 28, last year after losing a game of “rock, paper, scissors” with his three friends to decide who would jump in first.

In a statement, his father Simon Haycock, said that, despite a period of “challenging behaviour” the Oakwood Comprehensive pupil had recently “turned a corner”.

Mr Haycock said the autism diagnosis meant he had “no concept of fear or danger”.

His son had three swimming lessons as a toddler but did not like it. Mr Haycock worked with Sam as a young child teaching him to “starfish” by floating on his back, but Sam never went swimming with friends.

“Losing your youngest son is almost unbearable,” he said. “The pain is difficult to describe.”

The court heard statements from Sam’s three friends, who were identified in court, due to them being under 18, only as C, B, and C.

According to all three, the trip had been arranged via an online group chat the day before.

The first C said: “We planned to jump into the reservoir together.”

He said after Sam lost the game of rock, paper, scissors, his friends had told him he did not have to go in if he could not swim, but Sam had insisted he could.

“Sam cannon-balled from the top of the bridge and under the water and surfaced about five seconds later moving his hands under the water and looked like he was swimming by the way he was moving his arms,” said C, “but we quickly realised he was struggling and panicking.”

C said he had jumped in and “doggy-paddled” over to Sam, but said the “very cold” water made it difficult for him to move or speak.

He said he had “felt his (Sam’s) arms on my shoulders and I tried to swim but Sam was pulling me under the water”, adding: “We went under three or four times and then I felt Sam let go. When I turned around I could not see him.”

C managed to get to the side of the bridge and clung on until two passer-bys rescued him.  

PC Craig Atkin, of the underwater search team “gently recovered” Sam’s body at 6.10pm.

Summing up her findings, the coroner — who asked mother Gaynor to approach the bench so she could admire the framed photo of Sam with his beloved pet dog Ruby she clutched throughout the hearing — recorded the medical cause of death as drowning and a conclusion of accidental death.

Ms Mundy ruled out death by misadventure due to Sam’s “complex underlying health issues”, telling the court: “I don’t think Sam fully appreciated how dangerous it was.”