Tragic end for island hopper

The Greek island of Antiparos.
The Greek island of Antiparos.
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A Blackpool man died after suffering heart failure while swimming during an island-hopping holiday in Greece.

An inquest heard how a British couple frantically dragged Christopher Cooper, from Branstree Road, Mereside, out of the sea off the Aagean island Antiparos.

But they failed in their desperate attempts to resuscitate the 56-year-old civil servant.

A post-mortem examination carried out in Greece four days after Mr Cooper’s death on September 18, 2011, suggested that he had suffered a head injury and drowned.

But Blackpool Coroner’s Court heard that a second examination carried out by Mark Sissons, a pathologist at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, on October 7 had found little evidence of either.

Mr Sissons said Mr Cooper had suffered from significant narrowing of his coronary arteries and is likely to have died from acute heart failure.

The court heard how British tourists David Mulhern and his partner Wendy Davies had gone to the beach at 8.45am when Mr Cooper arrived and went for a swim.

In a written statement, Mr Mulhern said that after several minutes they noticed that he was ‘lying down’ and appeared to be having a seizure.

“When we approached him we realised he was unconscious,” said Mr Mulhern.

“We dragged him on to the beach to help him and tried to resuscitate him using CPR.”

Despite their efforts, a doctor who arrived at 9.30am pronounced Mr Cooper dead.

Dr Sissons told the court he had found only ‘minor abrasions and bruises’ on Mr Cooper’s head, which could have been caused when he was being dragged out of the water.

He said drowning caused people’s lungs to inflate, but that Mr Cooper’s lungs were under-inflated.

“The major feature was that he had a diseased heart,” said Dr Sissons, speculating that someone of limited experience may have conducted the Greek post-mortem.

He added: “I understand Mr Cooper had suffered chest pains prior to going on holiday.

“It is not unusual for people having a cardiac arrest to suffer a fit.

“The changes in his lungs make me think there may have been heart failure.”

Accepting Dr Sissons’ findings, Blackpool and Fylde coroner Alan Wilson delivered a narrative verdict, concluding that Mr Cooper had suffered from a significant narrowing of his coronary arteries and died from acute heart failure.