THREE South Tyneside men who died in a kayaking tragedy were all family men, an inquest into their deaths has heard.
An inquest was opened yesterday into the deaths of Darren Thorpe, 41, his brother Mark, 39, and their cousin, Gavin Bradley, 36.
The thrill-seekers died when an outdoor adventure on the River Tyne between Hexham and Wylam in Northumberland turned to tragedy on Sunday.
A hearing was opened and adjourned by North Shields and South Northumberland coroner Eric Armstrong, at North Shields.
Initial pathology reports by Dr Jennifer Bolton said all three deaths were consistent with drowning. However, further tests will be carried out.
The alarm was raised at 11pm on Sunday when the men – roller-shutter engineer Darren, of Madeira Terrace, Westoe, taxi driver Mark, of Froude Avenue, Biddick Hall, both South Shields, and shop assistant Gavin, of Lulworth Avenue, Jarrow – failed to return home.
The inquest heard the men had left their homes at around 9am that morning, and had been due to return at about 7pm.
When they failed to come home by 11pm, Mark’s wife Kerry raised the alarm.
That sparked a 15-hour search involving police, the Coastguard and a helicopter from RAF Boulmer.
Mark Thorpe’s body was recovered from the river at 5.12am on Monday.
His brother was found at 6.16am at Bywell, near Corbridge, and Gavin was found at 1.16pm, under the A68 bridge near to a water pumping station at Riding Mill.
All three men were identified by their wives.
Mr Armstrong said the three were “relatively inexperienced” kakayers, having only recently taken up the sport, and they were not members of any club.
The inquest was adjourned to a provisional date of July 10.