BREAKING: Ex-rugby player, David Fell dies while saving children
An erstwhile professional rugby has been reportedly died of a heart attack after rushing into the sea to rescue his two children who were caught up in a rip current.
55-year-old David was staying at Haven’s Reighton Sands holiday park with his family when he got into difficulty in the water off the Yorkshire coast last year and his body was later recovered by a RNLI lifeboat.
Assistant coroner for North Yorkshire Oliver Longstaff ruled that he had not drowned due to the lack of fluid found on his lungs but more likely he had suffered a cardiac arrest brought on by the stress of the situation – though this could not be conclusively proved.
Mr Fell, who was a professional rugby league player with Salford and Rochdale in the 1980s, was caught in a rip current and dragged out to sea alongside his two teenage children, who were both saved by other beachgoers.
He had not been in the water originally but entered when his son and daughter were seen to get into difficulties – his daughter was seriously injured and suffered an abdominal aortic rupture.
A postmortem initially established David died from immersion in water, but pathologist Dr David Scoones revised his opinion after the inquest heard he’d not been seen to struggle, shout for help and had never actually reached his children or their rescuers.
He provided evidence that David had a severely narrowed coronary artery that would have left him at increased risk of cardiac arrest.
Recording a narrative conclusion, Mr Longstaff said: “This was a tragedy for the Fell family. The members of the public who rescued his children showed considerable bravery and heroism.
“This incident was not anybody’s fault in a legal sense and there was no breach of duty to David Fell.
“I find it significant that none of the witnesses put Mr Fell at the scene of the rescue. He was a strong swimmer and family man and I find it inconceivable that he would not have wanted to participate in the rescue of his children.
“Nobody heard him shout for help. The next time anyone saw him, he was motionless.
“Dr Scoones at no point offered drowning as the cause of death. I asked him to review his evidence in light of the witness statements, and it seems that the stress of entering the water may have increased the risk of cardiac arrest from underlying heart disease.
“The emergency involving his children exacerbated this stress.
“It is an understandable assumption made on the day that he drowned, but this is not proved and the medical evidence is categorically that he did not drown. The cause of death is natural, but in my view this does not do justice to the circumstances.”