Lake tragedy widow wins compensation

A WIDOW whose husband died after striking his head on a submerged post in an Essex swimming lake tragedy three years ago has received substantial compensation for her loss.

A WIDOW whose husband died after striking his head on a submerged post in an Essex swimming lake tragedy three years ago has received substantial compensation for her loss.

Kevin Gay, 47, died in August 2002 after taking an afternoon swim at the Marine Lake, Maldon, and losing consciousness after striking his head.

Left to grieve after his death were his wife, Pamela, 42, and the couple's two children, Daniel, 15, and Ben, 12.

Yesterday, London's High Court awarded Mrs Gay and her children an undisclosed sum in compensation.


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Tragedy struck on August 17, 2002, as Mr Gay swam out into the lake after “walking into the shallow water near the sandy beach area”, court documents revealed.

He had just ducked down to swim under a line of buoys when he collided with the submerged post, concealed around three inches below the surface.

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He sustained catastrophic head injuries in the impact, causing him to pass out in the water. Mr Gay's death was caused by a combination of head injuries, asphyxia, and “aspiration of water”, the court heard.

He had gone to the lake for a swim with his family when tragedy struck. Mrs Gay could only watch as her husband's body floated to the surface.

The widow, of Shoeburyness, sought damages for alleged negligence from the Maldon District Council, which denied liability.

Her lawyers claimed the post, which was meant to support a depth marker, represented a hidden "trap" as the marker had become detached.

The district council was convicted of an offence under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act two years ago in relation to Mr Gay's death, and fined £75,000. It was also ordered to pay £125,000 court costs.

Mrs Gay's case reached London's High Court yesterday as Mr Justice Jack was asked to approve a final compensation settlement over her husband's death.

The judge said he was happy to approve the payout, which remains confidential to the parties and which includes an award for Mr Gay's two sons.

It had been a "terrible event" for the widow and two boys, said the judge, who were "present on the day he died".

"I wish you all well for the future," he concluded.

Mrs Gay's solicitor, Anthony Mitty, said later the family would now be happy to put the litigation behind them, adding: "It's been a long and traumatic experience for them all.”

She had already relived the harrowing events once before - during the 2004 criminal prosecution - said the solicitor.

"She is very relieved that it's all over now as it enables her to put the tragic incident behind her and to move on with her two young boys," said Mr Mitty.

Although the amount of the family's compensation was not announced in open court, six-figure awards have been made in similar cases.

Last night a spokesman for Maldon District Council said: “The council will be issuing a short statement on Tuesday May 23 in response to the out of court settlement that has been reached in relation to this case.”

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