Schoolgirl, 15, drowned after falling into river and being swept away during Storm Ellen

A FIFTEEN-year-old girl drowned after she fell into a swollen river which swept her away during Storm Ellen, an inquest heard today.

Schoolgirl Nicola Williams was playing on the banks of the River Rhymney in Cardiff when she plunged into the fast flowing water, pulling her downstream.

The tragedy came as Storm Ellen battered the UK last week, claiming its first victim in Cornwall the very same day.

A friend is said to have jumped in to save Nicola but she was carried away – as emergency services spent an hour trying to find her in the twisting river.

The inquest heard how Nicola, of Trowbridge, Cardiff, was found by firefighters "fully submerged" under the water 20 meters away from where she'd entered the river.

Coroner's officer Jane Bowen said: "Nicola was witnessed to enter the Rhymney River and get swept away by the strong current.

"Fire-fighters recovered her body some 20 meters from where she entered. She was fully submerged.

"A post mortem examination was carried out by Dr Stephen Leadbeater who gave the cause of death as submersion."

Assistant Coroner Thomas Atherton adjourned the inquest for a full hearing in September 2021 as there were "a substantial amount of inquiries to be carried out".


Her family and friends were said to be devastated as dozens of flowers and tributes were left at a bridge close to the scene.

David Thomas, the headteacher of St Illtyd's Catholic High School where Nicola was a pupil, said: "Any school would be better for having Nicola in it and we were fortunate to have her as part of our community.

"Polite, respectful and hardworking, Nicola was also so full of fun, kindness and generosity to others."

Friends and family also paid tribute, with one friend writing: "Can’t believe what’s happened. I love you so much I will see you again soon."

Another said: "RIP beautiful. Will be missed by loads. We all love you and we always will.

"You were taken to soon. Heaven has gained another angel."

In a statement last week, a spokesman for South wales Police said: "We were called today at 5.20pm to a report of a girl in the river in Ball Lane, Llanrumney.

"We attended with a number of other emergency services and the police helicopter.

"At about 6.40pm a 15-year-old girl was located and despite the best efforts of emergency services she sadly passed away."

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