Coroner orders safety checks on Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Published: Wednesday, 12 December 2018

CORONER John Gittins, has ordered safety checks on both Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts.

He requires proof that the ordered safety checks had been carried out by Canal & River Trust, Steve Bean reports.

pontcysllte1Fell to his death

At a pre-hearing on Monday the coroner wanted assurance that every single upright on the railings had been tested, after Kristopher McDowell, 18, fell to his death from Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in May, 2016, as he was walking home with a friend in the early hours of the morning.

It was earlier this year that an inquest into the death was scheduled to take place, but was adjourned at the request of Kristopher's family, whose solicitor called for an independent report on the condition of the metal railings which run alongside the footpath across the aqueduct.

Metal upright gave way

It is believed that he fell from the aqueduct after one of the metal uprights he was holding onto gave way.

Though the independent report has been received, the coroner for North Wales East and Central, told that he would not make assumptions that all safety measures and checks that he was being told about had actually been done, explaining:

“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.”

Gaps could be a risk

He will also consider as to whether the gaps between the uprights pose a risk.

The investigation will cover both the Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts, that are within the World Heritage Site and which are under the authority of the Canal & River Trust.

Mr Gittins told representatives of the Trust that he would remain concerned until he was assured that every single upright in the railing had been tested.

The full inquest will take place in March next year and will be held before a jury.