Callum Howkins, 17, died while snorkelling in Mauritius just days after his father’s wedding
The father of a teenager who died while snorkelling with dolphins says strong undercurrents were to blame for his death.
Callum Howkins, 17, was swimming in Tamarin Bay, Mauritius, just two days after his father’s wedding when tragedy struck.
Callum, of Hinckley, Leicestershire, had been snorkelling from a pleasure boat when he disappeared from under the water.
The alarm was raised when he failed to resurface and a frantic search was launched but his body was found around an hour later in deep water by the National Coastguard.
Callum’s distraught father Gavin performed CPR but he was declared dead on arrival at hospital on August 29 2014.
An inquest has now concluded Callum’s cause of death was drowning.
Coroner Carolyn Hull for Rutland and North Leicestershire recorded a narrative verdict of accidental death.
Speaking after the inquest devastated Mr Howkins said: ‘We found out afterwards that he was the fourteenth person to have drowned that year in the same bay.
‘Only two days earlier a dolphin conservationist from the Island Tourism Academy had drowned because of strong undercurrents.
‘When Callum disappeared it was a matter of seconds. One second he was there, the next, he was gone and we started desperately looking for him.’
Callum was snorkelling in Tamarin Bay after enjoying father Gavin’s (left) wedding. The alarm was raised when he disappeared under the waves and did not resurface
Callum’s body was found an hour later in deep water. Distraught father Gavin performed CPR but Callum was declared dead on arrival at hospital
He said the boat operator had given no safety procedures for dealing with such an event.
Mr Howkins, who had married wife Jo just days before the tragedy, added: ‘There should have been someone monitoring passengers at all times – a spotter to keep a look out, but there wasn’t.
‘When it came to raising the alarm, there was no procedure whatsoever. There were so many other boats in the water at the time, in the commotion, people thought we were pointing out dolphins, not trying to look for Callum.
‘There should have been a procedure for dealing with an emergency that would alert others to a problem.
‘Had we known someone had drowned in the very bay we were in two days earlier, we would never have made that boat trip, but no one said anything and there were no signs alerting people of the danger of strong undercurrents, despite the water appearing to be absolutely calm and clear.’
Mr Howkins said the boat trip was booked through a company attached to the luxury four star hotel they were staying in and there were no life jackets or oxygen on board.
An inquest into his death concluded Callum’s cause of death was drowning. Callum, pictured here with his mother, Louise, is said to have been the fourteenth person to have drowned in the bay that year
Callum was in Mauritius for the wedding of his father Gavin and his wife Jo
The inquest heard that Callum had been enjoying snorkeling, calling the trip just a few moments before he disappeared ‘amazing’.
A post mortem examination conducted at Leicester Royal Infirmary following the repatriation of his body found Callum had no alcohol or drugs in his system and there was no evidence he had struck an object which could have knocked him unconscious.
A summary of the pathology report read by the coroner said he had previously suffered two seizures – once in 2013 and again in 2014.
However these were not linked to his death.
Gavin said: ‘He had lots of tests and doctors concluded the seizures were down to exhaustion or stress, nothing more than that.
‘Had there been anything more to it, we would never have let him go into the water.’
The inquest heard that just moments before he disappeared, Callum had described the trip as ‘amazing’
Gavin has spent the years since Callum’s death searching for answers.
‘I couldn’t function at all for the first nine months,’ he said.
‘There are so many dates that mean something to us because of Callum and we’re still in touch with all the lads he played rugby with.
‘They’re doing things, but there’s always one missing and that’s Callum.
‘None of what we now know will bring him back, but I wouldn’t want any other family going through what we have been through.
‘It’s important to know what the currents are like and that there are safety procedures that should be in place.
‘Callum is missed every single day.’
Gavin is pursuing negligence charges against the boat operator and is in touch with a barrister over the next steps.
Callum was about to start an engineering apprenticeship at Caterpillar, in Desford, Leicestershire, after completing his first year of A-Levels at John Cleveland College, in Hinckley, where staff and students created a book of remembrance for him.
He worked part-time at the Cross Keys pub in Burbage, making pizzas, and played rugby for Hinckley RFC and enjoyed travelling.
Speaking after the inquest, Callum’s mum, Louise, said she was ‘disappointed’.
She said she still had many questions left unanswered and remained ‘devastated and heartbroken by his death’.
She said: ‘Callum was taken away from me under circumstances which could have been prevented and avoided.
‘There was no supervision or health and safety in place’.