SOBBING relatives of a schoolboy who drowned in a canal claim his death could have been prevented - after an inquest was told of the frantic attempts to save him.
Eight-year-old Matthew Cartwright, from Mexborough, fell into the canal near Talbot Road, Swinton, while picking blackberries last August. He died in hospital the next day.
A Rotherham inquest heard how thick brambles on the water’s edge hindered his rescue.
After the inquest, his weeping grandmother Wendy, who has campaigned for better safety measures, said: “If there was a fence there in the first place Matthew would be here.”
The youngster’s cousin Regan Young, also aged eight, saw him fall in and tried to save him.
In a police statement, he said: “I tried to grab his arm but it was too far.”
Passer-by Reza Abdollaza, a former lifeguard, also jumped in to try and save Matthew - who couldn’t swim and was born with no digits on one hand.
But the cold temperatures and cutting brambles forced him to get out.
A police officer eventually retrieved Matthew, but he died in hospital the next day. The cause of death was drowning.
Assistant deputy coroner Mark Beresford recorded a verdict of accidental death and praised the bravery of those who tried to save him.