Search icon


03rd Feb 2022

Boy dies after losing rock, paper, scissors bet over jump into freezing reservoir

Kieran Galpin


His family are campaigning for better safety around bodies of water

A teenage boy has died after jumping into a freezing reservoir following his loss at a game of rock, paper, scissors.

Sam Haycock, 16, from Rotherham, Yorkshire, died on May 28 last year after “cannonballing” from a nearby bridge following the end of the school term.

An inquest at Doncaster Coroner’s Court heard that Haycock had recently been diagnosed with Autism and was unable to swim. Senior coroner Nichola Mundy heard evidence that he and his friends were “egging” each other on in the hopes someone would jump into the freezing waters of Ulley Reservoir, near Rotherham.


The lads ended up playing rock, paper, scissors, which Haycock subsequently lost. He is said to have immediately jumped into the reservoir, followed quickly by a friend referred to as ‘C’, who could see his friend was struggling.

One of several adults who were there at the time, Craig Pennington, said: “I could hear what sounded like young lads laughing and joking around.

“I could see four teenage boys, it sounded like they were getting more excitable. It appeared like they were egging each other to jump into the water.

“One of the teenagers then started shouting: ‘Help me, help me’. I went to see what was happening not realising the urgency until I got next to the side of the bridge. It all happened so quickly.”


Pennington was able to hoist ‘C’ out of the water alongside other adults but kept asking “Where’s my mate, where’s my mate?'”

Conna Lee King, another adult who assisted, added: “I heard one of the teenage voices shouting: ‘I’m drowning, I’m drowning.'”

Lee King, who also couldn’t swim, attempted to throw a line to rescue Sam. Once emergency services arrived on the scene, a firefighter leapt into the freezing water to find Haycock.

Unfortunately, it was too late, and his body was recovered later.

Kevin Burke, countryside and ecology manager for Rotherham Council, said the area has an issue with anti-social behaviour, which he branded a “disgrace.” He has since been working with Haycock’s father on Operation Keep Safe which aims to improve safety regulations and standards around the reservoir.

Mundy concluded that Haycock’s death was an accident. She said: “Because he didn’t have any fear or sense of danger he said he would jump in first.

“The temperature of the water would have been a significant shock to Sam and to Sam’s system that would have sent him into panic. His friend’s efforts to save him were valiant.

“His friend was very brave but it simply was not possible him to save his friend despite his best efforts.”

The reservoir claimed the life of 19-year-old Khizar Hayat later that year in September.

Related Links