Jet ski death man had not ridden before

Beach tragedy: Stephen Campbell pictured in Thailand
Beach tragedy: Stephen Campbell pictured in Thailand
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A Blackpool barber who died after a jet-skiing incident in Thailand had never ridden on one of the vehicles before, an inquest heard.

Stephen Campbell, 38, may have driven the craft with “insufficient caution”, Blackpool and Fylde Coroner Alan Wilson told the hearing.

Mr Campbell, from Talbot Road, Layton, had been on a three week holiday in Chonburi province with his friend Mark Kear, also from Blackpool, when the tragic accident occurred at around 2.30pm on Wednesday, March 19.

The court heard that Mr Campbell’s jet ski had collided with the anchor line of a moored speedboat.

Mr Wilson read evidence from a police investigation report, which told how Mr Campbell and his friend had hired jet skis on Tawaen Beach on Koh Larn island in the Bang Lanung district.

The report included evidence from Mr Kear, who said: “We had been riding our jet skis side-by-side when we came across a large boat moored, so we separated, me to the right and Steve to the left. During the time we were separated I did not see what happened but when I drove my jet ski back round I found him lying face down in the water.

“The rental person drove over on a jet ski to help take Steve back to shore and after that he was taken to the hospital station.”

Mr Campbell was pronounced dead at 3.30pm.

Mr Kear added that while he had used a jet ski before, he did not think his friend had.

The hearing was told how Kanyarat Aianthaisong, a friend of the pair, had seen them driving out to sea “at considerable speed”.

When she next looked over she saw Mr Kear had jumped into the water to help his friend.

A Mr Ruayruen, who had rented the men the jet skis, told police he had advised them how to use the vehicles.

“He saw Steve driving the jet ski and saw him running into the anchor line of a speedboat moored in the sea around 150m away from the swimming area,” said Mr Wilson.

A post-mortem examination showed Mr Campbell had died from a depressed fracture of the skull and a collapsed cervical vertebrae. He also suffered fractured ribs and bruising to his arms and neck.

Mr Wilson concluded that he had died as the result of an accident.

After the hearing, Mr Campbell’s parents Peter and Patsy said their son, who owned Urban Barber in Layton, had “lived life to the full”.

“He was in a place he loved going to, he’d been there three times,” said Mr Campbell.

“He was always adventurous and he was a keen sportsman who loved squash and tennis. His nickname was Calamity Campbell and it felt like we had a season ticket at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

“But this was one accident too many.”

Mr Campbell’s sister, Catherine Ward, thanked the public for donating to a campaign to fly Steve’s body back to the UK. When insurers covered the costs, the family donated £14,000 to help fund an operation to enable four-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer Joe Knowles from Bispham to walk again.

Another £1,500 was donated to the Ben Harrington Repatriation Charity, which helps families repatriate loved ones.

“At least some positives have come out of this awful tragedy,” she said.