SOBBING relatives of a schoolboy who drowned in a canal claim his death could have been prevented - after an inquest was told of the frantic attempts to save him.
Eight-year-old Matthew Cartwright fell into the canal near Talbot Road, Swinton, Rotherham, while picking blackberries last August. He died in hospital the next day.
A Rotherham inquest heard he got to the water’s edge through the back of parkland while playing with his cousins. Thick brambles hindered his rescue.
His family have campaigned to get new fencing and planting put up by British Waterways.
After the inquest Matthew’s weeping grandma Wendy said: “If there was a fence there in the first place Matthew would be here. We still have nightmares that we’re going in the canal to save him. I’ve been down there and I am keeping an eye on it because I don’t want any other children to fall going down there. What we’re going through I wouldn’t want anyone to.”
The inquest heard how Matthew’s cousin Regan Young, also eight, saw him fall while spitting blackberries into the water.
In a police interview read to the court, Regan said: “He was like shouting, he was saying, ‘Help, go and get some help’, and holding his hand up for me to grab him.
“I tried to grab his arm but it was too far.”
After Regan raised the alarm at around 5pm, passer-by Reza Abdollaza, a former lifeguard, jumped in to try to save Matthew - who couldn’t swim and was born with no digits on one hand.
But the cold temperatures and cutting brambles forced him to get out.
Police described the scene as one of ‘confusion and chaos’ when they arrived. An officer dived in to retrieve ‘fun-loving’ Matthew, from Windhill Terrace, Mexborough. He was given CPR and flown to hospital but died the next day.
Assistant deputy coroner Mark Beresford recorded a verdict of accidental death and praised the ‘great personal bravery’ of the men who dived in.
The cause of death was drowning.