Hypothermia cause of death of Tipton teenager Daniel Chambers
PUBLISHED: 14:29 25 October 2018
A Tipton teenager died from hypothermia following exposure to the cold, an inquest heard.
Daniel Chambers’s body was found at 11.45am on Saturday, December 16 2017, in a field by the River Otter, three days after he went missing.
Assistant coroner Lydia Brown reopened the hearing this morning (Thursday) at Devon County Hall to hear from those involved in finding the teenager and the moments leading up to his death last year.
A police search was launched to find the year 11 King’s School student, who was reported missing at 4.37pm on December 13 by his family, who said it was ‘out of character’ and a ‘tragic accident’.
Daniel’s family released a tribute describing the teenager as an ‘amazing, kind, sensitive’ son and brother.
The statement read out in court said: “Daniel was all you could have asked for of a son. He was kind, clever, thoughtful, caring and loving.
“The world has lost a wonderful young man. We will all never be the same but we will celebrate his life by keeping him in our hearts and memories forever.”
The inquest heard that Daniel was found next to the river at the base of a tree. Some of his clothes had been removed, including one of his trainers which was never found. Although Daniel was found with a few scratches and scrapes, there were no signs of a third party or anything suspicious.
The court heard that Daniel had never gone missing before, did not have a background of issues and had spoken to family and friends about his plans for the future.
The court heard dog walkers, who saw Daniel during the day of his disappearance, described him as ‘walking with purpose’.
Officers who were involved in the investigation said the teenager’s backpack was found nearby containing his house keys and a sports bottle that smelt of alcohol, later found to be whiskey he took from his family’s home.
A toxicology report confirmed Daniel had 98 micrograms per 100 millilitres of blood. The drink drive limit is 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.
The court was told how cold it had been around the time of Daniel’s disappearance and that the area, where he was found, had a lot of water. His clothes were reportedly soaked through.
Detective Sergeant Charlotte Heath said: “There was a number of areas of standing water up to the knee height as well as fast flowing waters. It was extremely cold.”
The coroner also heard written evidence from school friends, who described Daniel as quiet, happy to listen to others and to talk to anyone, especially about football as he enjoyed playing as a goalie and supported Manchester United and Exeter City. The teenager was also a huge gamer and had put a PlayStation 4 on his Christmas wish list that year. He also enjoyed watching the Walking Dead and Breaking Bad the inquest heard.
Daniel had been taking mock GCSEs and had told his friends that he would ‘beat them next time’ after they had received their results and would sometimes choose to walk home rather than take the bus.
In a statement read out in court, a school friend said: “He was quiet and happy to listen to other people. He would talk to anyone about football. He seemed to be normal. If anything was wrong I thought he would come to me, I went to him if I had a bad day.”
In her summary, Ms Brown said Daniel enjoyed all the positives of youth and was a part of a close family.
She said: “The closest we have got to Daniel being a rebel was thinking of trying out smoking.
“He died of hypothermia. He was discovered in a field by the river near his home in Tipton St John having inexplicably left home and not gone to school on December 13.
“His body and clothing were very wet. He died of exposure after becoming confused. There is nothing in this terrible sequence of events to lead me to the conclusion other than this was an accidental death.”