Boy died jumping into reservoir after he lost game of rock-paper-scissors

A 16-year-od boy died after jumping into a freezing-cold reservoir when he lost a game of rock-paper-scissors with one of his best friends.

Sam Haycock was at Ulley Reservoir with friends celebrating the end of term in May 28 last year when he ‘cannonballed’ off a bridge and drowned in the waters below.

Sam had recently been diagnosed with autism and other complex medical problems and was unable to swim.

Senior coroner Nichola Mundy heard evidence that Sam and his pals had been ‘egging’ each other on as to who was to make the first jump into the freezing water, reports YorkshireLive.

The boys agreed two of them would play rock-paper-scissors to decide who would go first, with Sam losing.

He jumped in but immediately his friends could see he was panicking and one of them, identified only as C, leapt in and tried to save him.

One of several adults who were there at the time, Craig Pennington, said: “I could hear what sounded like young lads laughing and joking around.

“I could see four teenage boys, it sounded like they were getting more excitable. It appeared like they were egging each other to jump into the water.

“One of the teenagers then started shouting: ‘Help me, help me’. I went to see what was happening not realizing the urgency until I got next to the side of the bridge. It all happened so quickly.”

Mr Pennington added: “We assisted the teenager hanging onto the bridge, (‘C’), and between us we managed to get him out of the water.

“He kept saying: ‘Where’s my mate, where’s my mate?'”

Another man, Conna Lee King, added: “I heard one of the teenage voices shouting: ‘I’m drowning, I’m drowning.'”

He said he was about 30 meters from the bridge and ran towards it. He said he helped haul ‘C’ out. He said: “He asked me to go back in for his mate.

Parents Simon and Gaynor were left devastated by Sam’s death in Ulley Reservoir in May (Image: Haycock family)

“I replied saying I would go in but I couldn’t swim. It all happened so almost.”

A line was thrown into the water in a bid to help Sam get to shore, but did not work.

999 was called and firefighters jumped into the water but couldn’t find Sam. His body was recovered later.

Kevin Burke, countryside and ecology manager for Rotherham Council, said floating rings were not available as they were quite heavy to throw and some antisocial people used them for swimming.

He said the water was 30 feet deep at its deepest and would be very cold below the surface.

Sam Haycock, from Rotherham, died aged 16 at Ulley Reservoir in May 2021

Sam Haycock, from Rotherham, died aged 16 at Ulley Reservoir in May 2021 (Image: Sam’s Army’s Mission)

Ms Mundy concluded that Sam died from drowning and his death was an accident.

She said: “Because he didn’t have any fear or sense of danger he said he would jump in first.

“The temperature of the water would have been a significant shock to Sam and to Sam’s system that would have sent him into panic. His friend’s efforts to save him were valiant.

“His friend was very brave but it simply wasn’t possible for him to save his friend despite his best efforts.”

Sadly, the same reservoir claimed another life just a few months later in September, that of 19-year-old Khizar Hayat.

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