Father had to choose which twin to save

Filed under: In The News, Playground Bureau

British TV presenter Ian Clayton is sharing a heartbreakingly painful story in court in an attempt to protect more families from the tragedy that occurred to his two years ago.

While vacationing in Wales, Clayton rented a canoe to take his eight-year-old twins on a day trip. When their vessel capsized and the fast-moving water swept the family downstream, the father was faced with a Sophie's Choice situation: should he save the son he could see being quickly taken downstream or stay with the overturned canoe and look for the daughter that might still be trapped under it?

The agonized father decided to go for the child being swept out of sight, in spite of the boy's brave directive to "Save my sister first." He managed to get the boy out of the water and to the safety of the riverbank, but it was too late for his daughter, Billie.

When testifying at the inquest against the canoe company being investigated for renting the boats without giving proper warning or training to customers, it's clear the grieving father is still heartbroken. "'It is such a tragedy and people say that tragedy gets better with time. But it doesn't. The pain is still the same today, two years and two months after."

Just as every parent suspects, having to make a choice like that is something that haunts a person even as they sleep.

"Sometimes I dream that I saved Billie instead. I will never know if I made the right decision."

I can handle being called an overprotective, hand-wringing, worrywart basket case. What I don't think I could ever handle would be to find myself in a situation like this. Even imagining it is too painful.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.