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Family watched father drown

PUBLISHED: 10:55 20 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:47 09 March 2010

A LEADING Suffolk architect's family watched in horror as the 45-year-old drowned while swimming in the sea in Sri Lanka, an inquest heard.

A LEADING Suffolk architect's family watched in horror as the 45-year-old drowned while swimming in the sea in Sri Lanka, an inquest heard.

Richard Buckley, 45, from Thornham Parva, near Eye, had gone on a two-week holiday to the country in October with his wife and three children.

But an inquest was told yesterday how it ended in tragedy when he apparently got into difficulty as he snorkelled.

When he and his family arrived in the resort of Galle they were warned about strong currents in the sea, but told that if the water looked calm it would generally be safe to swim.

At about 10am on October 16 - two days into the holiday - Mr Buckley, described as a fit man by his wife, got ready to go snorkelling because the sea was calm and still, the inquest was told.

His wife and children went out on to the beach and watched him swimming on the distant reef. He would pop up from time to time and wave towards them before carrying on swimming.

But about half-an-hour later, as he started to head back towards the shore, Mr Buckley seemed to suddenly disappear - and was then spotted floating on the surface of the water.

A local man went into the sea and dragged him to shore, but medics could not resuscitate him.

A statement from his wife Fiammetta Gray, which was read out at the hearing in Lowestoft, said: “He was a fit man and he must have got into difficulties due to the time he had spent in the water.”

Suffolk coroner Peter Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: “Clearly what took place that day was a very tragic accident.”

Mr Buckley, an architect, was a founding partner in practice Buckley Gray Yeoman, which he set up with his wife in 1996.

They were later joined by Matt Yeoman at their offices in Shoreditch, where they led a 25-strong team.

Following his death, a spokesman for his firm said: “Richard's zest for life and enthusiasm will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”


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