Teenage brothers drowned after being ‘swept out to sea’ during family beach trip

Two teenage brothers drowned after being “swept out to sea” by an incoming tide during a family day out at the beach, an inquest heard.

Muhammad and Ali Shabbir, 18 and 16, had travelled from Dewsbury, Yorkshire, to Lytham St Annes last summer when tragedy struck on August 15, last year.

The pair who were said to be not strong swimmers, found themselves in “difficulty” while enjoying a dip with cousin Hamza, 15, reports LancsLive.

Assistant coroner Andrew Cousins told Blackpool Town Hall today while Hamza was able to struggle back to shore as the tide crept in at around 6pm, the two brothers were not so fortunate.

The boys’ struggle was witnessed by relatives and members of the public who described seeing them in “water up to their chests”, Detective Inspector Kevin Simmons said.

He added, despite being in shallow water the tide had encroached behind them cutting them off, with Muhammad and Ali “dragged from view”.

Lifeboat crews, the Coastguard, police and locals spent 17 hours searching for the boys.

Their bodies were found at around 4pm the next day around a mile from where they were last seen.

A post mortem examination confirmed the brothers had both drowned.

DI Simmons revealed that the high and low tide times, printed on a sign nearby to where the Shabbir family parked, were out of date.

The person responsible was on holiday and the task had not been re-allocated, he added.

A subsequent police investigation revealed updated signs were erected two days after the brothers’ bodies were found.

Mum Tasleem Shabbir – who had been sat around a mile from the water with her younger children – had warned her sons multiple times not to go too far out, the inquest heard.

She told Mr Cousins the tide was coming in “very fast”, with the brothers missing her repeated attempts to get their attention.

Dad Talat Shabbir said he called 999 but worried emergency crews would not be able to reach the area in time.

Both parents raised their concerns about the lack of signage at the hearing.

Blackburn GP Dr Amjad Kapadi visited St Annes with his wife, son, sister and mother on the same day as the Shabbir family.

He said he took a walk in the early evening and it took “a good 25 minutes” to get to the water’s edge from the promenade.

“The water came in quite quickly and it was very silent too,” he said.

The doctor described how his wife and mum first noticed the commotion at the water, and he advised a panicked Hamza to take his wet clothes off fearing he might get hypothermia.

RNLI station officer Paul Little, who is based at Lytham, said the call came in to the coastguard at 7.08pm, with his voluntary crew arriving at St Anne’s pier eight minutes later.

“Generally speaking it’s a very, very safe beach,” Mr Little said. “We have never had an incident like this previously.”

He said people getting cut off is a “regular occurrence” in Blackpool but the flatter beach at Lytham means it is unusual.

Lisa Foden, parks and coastal services manager at Fylde Borough Council, said new procedures for ensuring tide timetables were updated had been introduced following the deaths of Muhammad and Ali.

Ian Curtis, head of governance at Fylde Borough Council, accepted that the tide timetables displayed were out-of-date.

“The deaths were a tragic accident but an accident plain and simple,” he added.

The coroner gave a conclusion of accidental death.

“The incoming tide had advanced very rapidly and the presence of the gullies and sandbars had lulled Muhammad and Ali into a false sense of security and they were unaware of the depth of the water,” he said.

“Sadly they both got into difficulty and were unable to escape from the sea.”

Mr Cousins added that he did not feel his “duties in relation to prevention of future deaths had been engaged” and was satisfied by the changes brought in by Fylde Borough Council and the planned new signs.

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