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A teacher taking a seaside break as he recovered from the impact of Covid-19 died in a freak paddleboarding accident when he became trapped under a moored boat, an inquest heard.
Simon Flynn jumped off the paddleboard as the current in a Cornish estuary carried him towards the boat. But he was tethered to the board by an ankle leash and became stuck underwater.
Flynn’s partner, Chia Appleby, who was paddleboarding with him at the time, said the pair had gone to Cornwall for a weekend break in August last year.
Appleby said Flynn, 42, had suffered Covid-19 and was dealing with chronic fatigue and insomnia but was keen to go paddleboarding. She said her partner, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, had done a lot of water sports, was a good swimmer and confident in the water.
The inquest at Truro, Cornwall heard the tide was low. It was a calm, sunny day, and they both wore wetsuits as they paddled across the estuary near Rock to some sandbanks where Appleby said they had a “chat and kiss and cuddle”.
On the way back across, the current took them towards the moored boat and Appleby said Flynn leapt off the 4-metre inflatable board.
She said: “I looked behind. I could see he had gone under the boat. I could see that all his body was under the boat. He just got stuck underneath the boat.”
Appleby jumped into the water to try to help but could not swim against the current and screamed for help.
Financial services operations manager Charlie Palmer saw the incident unfolding from the Rock sailing club, where he was having his lunch. He paddled out, dived in, undid the leash and pulled Flynn to the surface. Other rescuers arrived but could not save Flynn.
The harbour master, Bryn Phillips, said there were 300 moorings in the area and this was the first such incident.
A postmortem concluded Flynn died from drowning and also suffered a minor head injury. The acting senior coroner, Andrew Cox, recorded a conclusion of accidental death.
Flynn’s family said at the time: “It is with immeasurable sadness that we, Simon’s family, must announce that he tragically passed away in a freak accident while having the time of his life in Cornwall. He loved his job, he loved working and developing his students.”