Why did my son have to die in a flooded drain?

Last updated at 01:52 07 December 2007

The father of a man who died trapped in a flooded drain told yesterday how he had warned him to stay away from the danger area.

Mike Barnett's fight for life after his foot became stuck when he was clearing debris was one of the most tragic images of last summer's devastating floods.

A post-mortem found that he died of hypothermia following prolonged immersion in the water.

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Mike Barnett

Yesterday his father, Michael Barnett, said he could not understand why his "lovely" son had to die - and raised questions about the temporary grating over the drain which trapped his son.

He said the flooding on Monday June 25 was so bad he could not get near the culvert where rescuers were battling to free 28-year-old Mike.

He learned of his death from a television news bulletin.

Mr Barnett, who lived in Hull with his son, said: "I remember looking at a weather forecast on the 24th and I told him it was going to rain badly and warned him not to go into the drain.

"The next morning, I woke up to the sound of the door closing and noticed the waterproof trousers and jacket were missing. If I had known how bad the rain was, I would have stopped him."

The inquest jury heard how ten days earlier, Mike Barnett had helped clear the drain near his work at a fish farm on Astral Road.

A screen to protect the drain from debris had been removed by a digger hired by his boss, Andrew Claxton, and the council had replaced it with a temporary grating.

Mr Barnett said his son, who had been on a weekend camping trip with his girlfriend, had not needed to go to work at the Kingston Koi Company on the Monday because the shop was not open.

"I received a call from his boss around 1.30pm and he told me Mike was trapped," he added.

"I remember thinking he should not be there."

He said that after learning of his son's death, a policeman "finally knocked on the door and when I opened it he just said 'Sorry' and walked off".

Mr Barnett added: "No one expects to bury their own son. I feel guilty I was not there to help him and I cannot understand why he had to die.

"He was a lovely and lively lad and a generous human being. My life will never be the same."

He also raised questions over East Riding Council's maintenance of drains and the temporary grating over the drain.

Council contractor Gerald Frisby said: "On the day of Mike's death the cleaning team had again visited Astral Road, but the water was so high that they couldn't clean it and were forced to leave."

The inquest was adjourned until today.

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