Analysis of Drownings 2009-2013

What do we REALLY know about death by drowning in Surrey?

  • Inspired by the initiative of Avon Branch, reported last year, we decided to create a database of the fatal drownings in Surrey in recent years.
  • Using a variety of searches, largely through Google, we were able to establish the details of 21 incidents over the 4 years from Nov 2009 to Oct 2013.
  • This may not be a complete list, as deaths of individuals with few relatives, an introvert lifestyle, and nothing suspicious (especially where the police feel that suicide is involved), may not be reported anywhere.
  • Often news items appear within hours of an incident, only to be followed by very little mention for months. Inquest findings may, or may not, be reported.
  • The full report is available here:Drownings in Surrey 2009-2013.

What did we discover?

  • Two deaths (10%) were ‘victims of crime’ – infants drowned in their baths through the criminal negligence of their mothers.
  • All other deaths (19) were of males, and except for 4 of unknown age, all of these were over 16. 14 victims (66%) were over 30 years old.
  • Three deaths (14%) concerned Surrey residents on bespoke/expensive holidays abroad.
  • Locations involved were – 13 in rivers, 3 in lakes, 3 in the sea.
  • There was no predominant context – two were walking on ice, one attempting a rescue, three were swimmers in difficulty, three involved powered boats, one was a canoeist, and two are thought to have committed suicide.
  • Three were attempting to rescue dogs – all of which ‘saved’ themselves without assistance.
  • Deaths occurred throughout the year, though 12 (57%) happened in five months (June to October – 42% of the year).

What do we do with this?

  • In a local context, we hope that this will better inform our instructors.
  • Two groups appear slightly more vulnerable – dog walkers (14%) and people living on or beside rivers (24%) – in most cases these victims were also more mature. We are considering how to target these groups.
  • Three principle rivers were involved (Mole, Wey, and Thames). We are hoping to engage with the main stakeholders in these areas.
  • Our community has high net domestic income and is home to related travel companies. We are considering how to engage with these stakeholders to prevent further foreign tragedies.