Inquest Into Essex Pool Deaths Hears From Hotel

The second day of the inquest into the deaths of two people who died at a swimming pool in Essex has heard the staff thought they were 'playing dead'.

Komba Kpakiwa, 31, and Josephine Foday, 22, died at the four star Down Hall Country House Hotel in Hatfield Heath on April 27 last year.

Miss Foday, from Plumstead, south-east London, had celebrated her birthday the previous day.

Earlier at the inquest in Chelmsford, fellow guest Marcel Haniff, from Hertfordshire, said that he had seen them struggling in the water shortly before they drowned but thought it may be a prank as there was a Murder Mystery event taking place that night.

Today Craig Vines, the hotel's deputy general manager, described how he was alerted to the emergency.

He added: "I had a message saying they were playing a terrible game or playing dead or that something inappropriate was going on in the pool.

"When I got to the pool it took me thirty seconds to come to my senses and realise they were in trouble.

"I helped a colleague pull them from the water and started performing CPR.''

He said the hotel had been busy and full.

Guests at a wedding gathered to watch the drama unfold as police cars and an air ambulance landed on the hotel lawn as photographs of the event were due to be taken.

The pool area wasn't monitored by a lifeguard and a CCTV camera was broken.

Mr Vines said the camera was only used for checking back or to inform other guests how many were using the facility.

"That camera was never used to monitor the pool,'' he added.

Mr Vines said that many of the risk assessments were based on generic templates.

The inquest heard that although some concerns about pool safety had been raised by a guest the previous year there had never been a major incident.

A post-mortem examination established the pair are likely to have drowned. Neither had been drinking but they couldn't swim.

They'd arrived at the hotel to celebrate Miss Foday's birthday the previous day. She had lived with her grandmother since arriving in England from her native Sierra Leone in 2001.

Mr Kpakiwa, from Erith, Kent, was also originally from Sierra Leone and was married with two children.

His wife and family have attended the hearing but nobody from Miss Foday's family has been present.

It's understood the pair were in a relationship.

The inquest is due to finish tomorrow.

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