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Pontcysyllte Aqueduct inquest: Teenager was big part of community

By Sue Austin | Chirk | News | Published:

The teenager who died when he fell from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct had been a big part of the team at the community run Splash Magic leisure centre in Plas Madoc, Wrexham.

The top of the aqueduct

Kris McDowell had been a volunteer at the leisure centre, before working as a general worker and recently qualifying as I lifeguard.

Warm tributes were paid to him after his death in May 2016

He combined his work at Splash Magic with shifts at the McDonald’s restaurant near Chirk and had been walking home from the restaurant when he met up with his friends on the canal towpath.

Previously the 18-year-old had trained and worked as a welder.

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After his death the trustees of Splash Magic said everyone there had been saddened by the death of the young member of their team.

A statement said: “Kris McDowell was a bright and lively addition to our team and he was proud to be a part of Splash.

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“He began working with us as a recreation assistant and had recently qualified as a lifeguard. Something, which we were all extremely proud of him for achieving.”

Darrell Wright, the then Chairman of the Splash Community Trust, added: “He was a lovely lad and he used to come in and do all sorts for us and was still coming in if we were short.

“Everybody took to him, he was so polite and well mannered, well loved and very popular.”

The 11 mile length of towpath along the Llangollen Canal from Chirk to Llangollen part of which Kristopher had walked on the day he died forms the basis of the World Heritage Site.

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It includes both the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct over the River Dee and the Chirk Aqueduct over the River Ceiriog andChirk tunnel, all built by Shropshire engineer, Thomas Telford.

At a pre-inquest hearing in December last year, Coroner, Mr John Gittins, ordered checks on both aqueducts saying that he wanted to be ensured that every single upright on the railings had been tested.

“Given the number of visitors who attend this site I have to be incredibly diligent and cautious to ensure I have done everything I can to examine the circumstances leading to Mr McDowell’s death,” he said.

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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