Boy Dies in Canoe Accident

19 April 2011, 14:20 | Updated: 19 April 2011, 16:03

A 14 year old boy who tragically died on Sunday morning (17 April) when he was canoeing at Teston Lock, near Maidstone has been named as Cameron Sandell from Hunton.

A keen adventurer, Cameron was an enthusiastic member of his local Scouts Group and had a passion for canoeing and anything to do with water sports. He was a pupil of Mascalls School in Paddock Wood and had just joined the school rugby team, enjoying several games playing at home and away against other schools. Cameron intended to join the air force but they were not recruiting so he instead turned his sights towards joining Sandhurst and becoming an officer in the army.

His parents, Sue (45) and Peter Sandell (47) and their daughter Hannah (18) have been devastated by his loss. He was also very close to his grandparents Michael and Marion Sandell. Sue says: “It’s impossible to put into words how much he will be missed, I feel like I have lost a little bit of me. The house is so empty without him, he was bigger than life and when Cameron was round you would feel his presence. He was such a huge part of our lives.”

Peter agrees: “He was my shadow. We used to go hunting and salmon fishing together, which was one of Cameron’s passions and we’d have the time to set the world to rights. Although he was usually a man of few words, he had a quiet independence and had a great ability to make others laugh, with the most fantastic sense of humour.”

Older sister Hannah will remember him for his great smile. She says: “I thought the world of him. Although we were siblings, we got on really well and were great friends too, enjoying each other’s company. This last week we were able to spend some quality time together and I will treasure these memories in the weeks to come.”

Sue expressed her thanks for everyone’s efforts to pull Cameron from the water: “I would like to thank everyone who tried to help Cameron and we appreciate that every effort was made to try and save him.”

She says they will now have to try and remember him in their actions: “We have to live for Cameron’s memory now. Cameron loved hill walking in Northumbria and we used to go as a family every year. As a child, we used to plant chocolate at the top as a surprise for him and he would think the mountain was made of chocolate. We plan to go back again this year and plant some chocolate in his memory. He would have been 15 on 18th June and on his Birthday we’re going to the beach and release Chinese lanterns at the end of the day. It’s where he would have wanted to be.”

Scouts were also a big part of Cameron’s life and he had recently completed three-quarters of a winter survival challenge, after being forced to pull out with a leg injury. Peter says: “We were so proud of him carrying on despite his injury. I cannot praise highly enough the effect that being in the Scouts had on my son. He joined it as a boy, but the experiences he had while being with them, helped him become a man, giving him greater confidence and determination. We’re going to try and get Bear Grylls to write a letter for the funeral as being a chief Scout, he was one of Cameron’s heroes. That’s why we are asking for donations to be made to Yalding Scouts in his memory of his passion for adventure. If the money raised helps future generations of scouts or sends a message to others about the dangers of water we will have known that something good has come from this devastating tragedy.”

Cameron and his friend had hired stunt boats that morning and then taken them to the lock. The pair had just got into the fast moving weir at 11:20am when it's believed Cameron’s canoe capsized at around 11:20am and he got into difficulties in the water, unable to roll and right himself. His friend, who was still in his own canoe, tried desperately to save him and managed to get him out of the canoe, but was unable to pull him out, as Cameron was stuck in the flow of water.

Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue and Ambulance crews were alerted by witnesses on the bank and attended the scene and the boy was pulled to shore. Paramedics attempted resuscitation, continuing their efforts en-route to Maidstone General Hospital but they were sadly unable to revive him. The other boy suffered no injuries. A post mortem took place earlier today and an inquest is due to be held tomorrow, which will be adjourned for further tests to be carried out.

Cameron was a competent and experienced canoeist, having done the sport for 4 years and gaining his BCU 2 star qualification.

The date of the funeral is yet to be set, but is expected to take place at Yalding Church, which is affiliated with the local scouts.