A ‘brilliant’ Lancaster University worker died after falling from a kayak in the River Lune last year, an inquest heard today (February 8).
Emergency services, including Coastguard and RNLI, were scrambled to the scene on October 8, 2023, after two men entered the water in Lancaster. Mr Booth had been rowing a double scull boat after setting off at around 7am from the John O’Gaunt Rowing Club.
The other man, Mr Da Silva, was pulled from the water by rescue teams. An inquest opening at Preston Coroners Court heard how Ben, 46, was later found further down the weir.
Tragically, he was later pronounced dead in hospital.
Ben had been part of the university’s marketing team for nearly four years and was a popular member of staff. A spokesperson for the uni said: “His loss came as a shock to us all. He will be sincerely missed, and our thoughts are particularly with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
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At the time of his death, former co-worker Chris Kahn said: “I had the pleasure of working with Ben when he lived in California and am gutted by the news of his death. We were sommelier together when he was wine director at Cuistot Restaurant; at the time the best restaurant in Palm Desert.
“He was a brilliant writer and his descriptions of the restaurant, wines and the owner still grace the list years after he left to go back to the UK. He was, as many have noted a warm, engaging and generous person always ready with a kind word. I know how much he loved rowing and while his death is a tragedy he left us doing what he loved.”
A spokesperson for British Rowing said: “We share our deepest sympathies with Lancaster John O’Gaunt Rowing Club and its members following the tragic loss of their fellow rower Ben Booth. Our thoughts are with Ben’s friends and family.”
Today (Februiary 8), Coroner Dr James Adeley said: “Within the scope of the inquest, I have asked myself a number of questions, I have the family statement and the concerns they have raised. I should tell you that I have been to look at the rowing club and I have looked at the river bank, so I am aware of what we are dealing with.”
The inquest will examine whether it was safe to go out on the water at that time, as well as whether there were adequate signs and safety precautions in place. No exact date has been set, but Dr Adeley said that it is likely to start in the first week of September, and will take around a week to speak to all interested parties and reach its findings.
Dr Adeley said: “I would hope that with those directions, we will be able to proceed with the witnesses I have asked for at that time.”
A book of condolence was opened following Ben’s death. It can be read here.
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