Girl Drowned In Lake At Foster Parents’ Home

AN 11-YEAR-OLD girl drowned in a lake as she went to feed geese at her foster parents’ home, an inquest heard yesterday.

Kirstey Leigh Thomas had been living with Trevor and Sue Wanmer in Llandysul, Carmarthenshire, for three years when she drowned on June 24.

An inquest at Llanelli Town Hall was told that Kirstey, originally from Aberdare, was happy living in Gilfach Las, Rhos, and had been in “good spirits” on the day, after playing in a roller hockey tournament.

In a statement read to the inquest, Detective Constable Adam Chiffi said Kirstey had enjoyed playing in the tournament “immensely”, and that after returning home that afternoon she had wanted to go to her friend’s house to return a T-shirt she had borrowed.

Her foster father walked with her to check on his ponies and gave her a bag of bread to feed the geese on her way, the inquest heard.

Det Con Chiffi said Kirstey was “on a high” and play-fighting with Mr Wanmer until he reached the gate to the ponies’ field.

The inquest heard that the Wanmers had a lake, half the size of a football pitch, on their “farm-style premises” and kept two kayaks on its bank.

Kirstey, although not a strong swimmer, could swim and had used the kayaks under supervision the day before her death while playing with the Wanmers’ grandchildren.

As he returned to his house, however, Mr Wanmer saw Kirstey’s friend’s T-shirt draped on a fence surrounding the lake, and realised that the gate leading to the water was open. After alerting his wife, Mr Wanmer returned to the lake.

Det Con Chiffi said, “He saw the yellow kayak and oar in the water. It was upright, but full of water.”

Mr Wanmer went into the lake after seeing a shadow in the water, and found Kirstey’s body. After pulling her ashore, he tried to resuscitate her. Paramedics and a local doctor were called and continued attempts to revive Kirstey, who was taken to the West Wales General Hospital, Carmarthen, but she was pronounced dead at 8.07pm.

The inquest heard that Mr and Mrs Wanmer had concerns that Kirstey was sometimes unaware of danger.

Det Con Chiffi said she had walked out on a road without looking shortly before her death, and on another occasion almost collided with someone on a swing, which missed her by millimetres.

He added, “She was lacking a little bit of common sense.”

Carmarthenshire coroner John Owen recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Pathologist Dr Andrew Davison was unable to confirm how Kirstey died, but Mr Owen said, “I have no reason to believe that the cause of death was anything but drowning.”

Neither Kirstey’s parents Susan Williams and Phillip Thomas, nor her foster parents wished to comment after the inquest.

In a statement at the time of Kirstey’s death, her family said she had “loved life” and spoke of the Wanmers’ “devastation” at the accident.

The statement read, “The death of a baby or child is the most devastating experience any parent ever has to bear.

“Given that our daughter had so many people who cared for her, and loved her, the devastation is being felt by many people.

“Our daughter loved life and always had a happy face and kind words for everyone she met.

“She will be in our thoughts and our hearts always. We have been in close contact with her foster carers, who are equally devastated by this tragedy.”