Friday, 12 August 2022

Father dies in kayak tragedy

A MAN has died in a kayak accident on the Thames near Shiplake.

A MAN has died in a kayak accident on the Thames near Shiplake.

Michael Moore is believed to have drowned when his kayak capsized and he was dragged under the water and did not resurface for around 10 minutes.

The tragedy happened at Shiplake weir on Saturday as the 43-year-old father-of-two was enjoying a day out on the river with his daughters.

Mr Moore, of Church Street, Wargrave, had hired a kayak from Wargrave Boating Club, where he had been a member for only a few weeks and had one lesson.

He went for a paddle in the kayak on his own while one of his daughters was on another stretch of water and the other was taking a rest on the bank by the club.

He was seen paddling past an island campsite towards the weir before he vanished.

A little later he was seen floating face-down in the water and was pulled out by two paramedics, who were at the campsite on holiday.

They performed CPR in an attempt to resuscitate him and Mr Moore was then taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, where he was pronounced dead.

Mr Moore, a property developer, who grew up in south London and Surrey, had moved to the area to be closer to the Thames.

His wife Sarah, 42, was learning to row and daughters Imogen, 12, a pupil at Piggott School in Wargrave, and Evie, 11, a pupil at Piggott Junior School, were having skiffing lessons.

Mr Moore, who had worked with his elder brother Tony in Sutton, launched his own business, MRM Properties, shortly after moving to Wargrave.

He had just finished developing his first home and had sold it and was about to begin work on a second property. Tony Moore, 45, said his brother, who also enjoyed playing golf and walking his dog, had fallen in love with the area.

He said: “He loved the river, the surroundings and the people and the family wanted to get totally involved in it. He would go drinking and eating in the pubs and restaurants and was meeting new people.

“Michael idolised his kids and gave everything to them to make sure they had a nice life. He had a plan in his head and achieved everything.

“He was fantastic — always smiling and laughing. Everyone who met him loved him. He always had time for people and was reliable.

“It sounds clichéd, but he couldn’t do enough for others. He was the whole package. He was the hardest-working person I have ever met and he just loved to get his hands dirty. He was always working on some big project. He had got to the end of his first project but he can’t reap the rewards. His dream is over, shattered, just for pursuing a bit of fun.”

Mr Moore, who lives in Sutton, said their younger brother Daniel, 28, and their parents and other relatives were devastated.

He said: “This is what’s making it more painful because we were a really tight family and everyone is in pieces. We had worked together in the family business once we left school and always saw each other.

“Michael was so young, fit and full of life. He was a fantastic little brother and I miss him to pieces. I would give up everything to have him back.”

Mr Moore called the weir “lethal” and called for better signposting in the approach to it. He said: “You go beyond a certain point and it takes you like a rip tide then that’s it. The lock-keeper said you would have no chance. The boating club is 300 yards away so if there’s a danger so near it should be made obvious.”

Gary Boys, a close friend of the victim, said: “If you start rowing towards the weir you get to a stage where it draws you in. We think Michael has tried to turn around but not been able to and he has probably panicked. No one saw him capsize but we presume that the weir dragged him under and he was drowned.”

Mr Boys, of River Terrace, Henley, said: “I hope this never happens again. A great friend of mine has been killed. It could have been three or four children who had gone down that way.

“It was a total accident but I do think people around here need to take more precautions. I talked to the lock-keeper and he said it’s one of the most dangerous locks around.”

The boating club was closed this week as a mark of respect. Sue Gutierrez, a member, said: “It’s an awful accident and, like everyone, we’re going to do as much as we can to learn from this. Whenever people go on our kayaking courses they are always told that it’s a very dangerous weir.”

Police and the Environment Agency are investigating. An agency spokeswoman said: “The circumstances are unclear at present.”

She added: “We have signage at prominent locations along the River Thames, including weirs. Shiplake weir has warning signs.”

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