Rescue bid failed for Jason

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A teenage kayaker was swept to his death on raging Norwegian rapids, as his friend watched in his horror as a doomed rescue bid failed.

An inquest at Scarborough Town Hall heard how 19-year-old Scarborough joiner Jason Raper was sucked into a savage whirlpool on the first day of an adrenaline-fuelled holiday with three friends, on June 23 last year.

One of the party, Steven Rees-Clark, told the inquest on Thursday that upon realising Jason. who he had only just met in person, was in trouble, he risked his own life to try and rescue his drowning companion, who was being spun around in the river.

The student said how he ended up fighting for his own life, after he smashed into Jason’s canoe - only to float over the top and capsize himself after ending up in the whirlpool - ominously referred to as a “hole” by canoeing enthusiasts.

“I couldn’t turn my boat because the water was catching the side and making me roll,” said the Hampshire student.

He then capsized several times, before managing to roll his way out of peril.

Mr Rees-Clark managed to eventually exit the treacherous River Raundalen onto a nearby bank.

He had with him a long rescue line to try and hurl to Mr Raper as his body, kept afloat by a red buoyancy vest, raced towards him.

It was there he would make one last ditch attempt to save the life of his new friend - but, tragically, it failed.

“I hoped to be in a position to throw my rescue line towards him - but I was too slow.”

He added that Mr Raper’s face was ‘expressionless’, and was unable to tell whether he was conscious.

It was to be the last time anybody would see Mr Raper until his body was found last September.

The other members of the party, brothers Phillip and James Mitchell, also gave evidence at the inquest.

Phillip said that he had expected his friend to be able to swim to safety, adding that he regularly practiced in holes “for fun”.

“He was as good, if not more experienced, than I am,” said Phillip.

Upon realising their friend was missing, they searched downstream for him.

And James told the inquest that during the search, he had “seen something red” - although he couldn’t be sure what.

Coroner Michael Oakley recorded a verdict of accidental death, but said he couldn’t be sure exactly how he died.