TRAGIC teenager Mohammad Hussain jumped off Donnington Bridge to his death because of a dare with a friend, an inquest heard yesterday.
Mohammad and Megan Simmons, then 16, leapt off the bridge in to the Thames on May 25, but the 15-year-old was unable to swim and drowned.
Yesterday Megan gave evidence to deputy Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner at Mohammad’s inquest.
After Mr Gardiner recorded a verdict of accidental death, Mohammad’s family said his death had left their lives “empty”.
The pair had been with friends in South Park on what was a hot summer evening, Megan said. He was giving her a lift on his bicylce to Meadow Lane close to the bridge.
She said: “We were talking about two girls who jumped off a bridge in Cambridge holding hands.
“Then we were talking about jumping off a bridge, messing around.”
She added: “We climbed over the rails. We were both daring each other.”
They were holding hands when they jumped at the same time, Megan said, but she hit the water first.
She did not know Mohammad could not swim and was not a strong swimmer herself, but reached the side.
She said: “It didn’t take long to hit the water, it was really quick.
“I was really scared because I went really under, but didn’t touch the bottom.
“I didn’t see Mohammad but I could hear him, saying “help me” and screaming. He was panicking.”
Among the other witnesses was Oxford Spires Academy pupil Hamzah Rehman.
He said: “They were both smiling and they were holding hands.
“They looked at each other for about two minutes, then they jumped.”
Megan had drunk about half a bottle of a wine and half a bottle of vodka before the pair decided to jump in, while tests showed Mohammad had not had any alcohol.
Mr Gardiner was told she refused to tell police her name or Mohammad’s before eventually giving both names to officers when she was treated at the John Radcliffe that evening.
Megan was questioned by members of the boys family at the hearing. Mohammad’s sister Amrie Khan said: “You lied about your name. You wasted time – we could have got help quicker.”
Megan broke down under questioning and the inquest was halted for 40 minutes before Mr Gardiner ruled the questions were not relevant.
Nine members of Mohammad’s family then left in protest, although six returned to hear the verdict.
Mohammad’s body was recovered two hours after he jumped by fire and rescue teams, and he was pronounced dead at the John Radcliffe Hospital.
Det Sgt Lewis Prescott-Mayling said Megan’s actions delayed the police informing Mohammad’s family but did not hamper the search for him.
Mr Gardiner said: “I think it was a voluntary act when he jumped into the river and one can do no more than speculate as to his motivation. He was with a female acquaintance, he may have felt it difficult to admit he couldn’t swim.”
Speaking afterwards, his sister Amrie Khan said the family were disappointed not to have been able to speak.
She said the family felt “empty” without Mohammad, and his father Anwar Khan added: “We would like to thank the whole community for their support.”