08:23PM, Thursday 04 November 2021
The father of Jordan Veira said the teenager had left a 'gaping hole inside our hearts' as the inquest into his death concluded today.
The inquest, at Reading Town Hall, heard from witnesses including the police who investigated Jordan’s death, as well as organisations involved in the question of how to increase safety around the river.
Furze Platt pupil Jordan, 15, got into trouble in the Thames near Bourne End on May 31 of this year. He was seen disappearing under the surface at 3pm that day.
Emergency services were called and the first officer arrived on the scene at around 3.10pm. The fire brigade, the hazardous area response team (HART) and search and rescue services also attended.
A helicopter was sent out searching for Jordan at around 3.30pm. It scanned the area with regular and thermal imaging but would have been unlikely to spot anybody who was submerged, police said.
At 4.35pm, the fire service entered the ‘recovery phase’ of its search as it was thought that Jordan was unlikely to be found alive.
The dive team was called and Jordan’s body was recovered at the jetty, 40m downstream from where he was last seen alive.
Detective Inspector Nick Hind said that photographs of Jordan’s injuries were ‘not indicative of serious assault or third-party involvement.’
Wounds on Jordan’s head were found to be ‘superficial’ and likely a result of having been in the water for a long time.
But father Shaun Veira questioned this.
“If he was turning around in the water, why was only one side of his body damaged?” he asked. “That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Pathologists found that Jordan had multiple small abrasions on his chest and arms and nothing on his back.
Nonetheless, senior coroner for Berkshire, Heidi Connor, accepted DI Hind’s argument that this was ‘perfectly explainable’ by hidden hazards in the river.
A post mortem on Jordan was completed on June 2 at Wexham Park Hospital.
In it, pathologists concluded that there was no blunt force trauma on any part of his body, including his head – nor evidence of the presence of drugs or alcohol.
For these reasons, Mrs Connor concluded that that Jordan’s death was an accidental death by drowning. There was ‘no suggestion’ that he was compelled to go into the water, she said.
Near the end of the inquest, Mr Veira criticised the amount of time that elapsed between reporting Jordan’s struggles and finding his body. Among his concerns was the focus of the search.
“I feel like I’ve been let down by the whole system,” he said.
“It was a time sensitive situation – we know he was in the water. It made sense to search the water, not the ground. Things need to change.”
But Ms Connor said in her closing remarks that it was ‘unlikely in the extreme’ that Jordan would have been found alive, even if he had been found sooner.
At the end of the inquest, Jordan’s parents read out pen portraits paying tribute to their son.
They wrote he was a ‘loving and loyal’ person, who loved family time and was enthusiastic for sport, video games, food, fast cars and travel.
He planned to be a mechanical engineer, husband and father one day and was looking forward to his 16th birthday, his school prom and entering Sixth Form at Furze Platt.
“He leaves a gaping hole inside our hearts that nothing can fill,” said Mr Veira.
“This has undoubtably been an emotional journey for Jordan’s family,” said Mrs Connor. “It never ceases to amaze me, the dignity of family members in these circumstances.”
The coroner will now make a report containing possible actions for how to prevent similar deaths in the future. It may be that the landowners of the place where Jordan drowned will install river safety signs.