- David and Ruth Cox were driving children to separate schools on bridleway
- Mrs Cox and son Ioan, nine, and Tess, 11, swam to safety from icy waters
- Mr Cox said to have been unconscious in front of his blue Toyota Aygo
- He was driving along a path near the Monsal Trail, north of the A6 in Derbyshire, when car veered off the path and into the River Wye
- Father-of-two worked for the BBC in Salford and covered the Olympics
- Former neighbour described him as a ‘loving father’ who was ‘family orientated’
By Andy Dolan
PUBLISHED: 18:21, 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 13:20, 25 January 2013
A man died yesterday as his wife battled to save him when both their cars skidded off a bridlepath into an icy river.
David and Ruth Cox were driving their children to separate schools when their vehicles flipped over and plunged into the water moments apart.
Mrs Cox, 39, and both children, Ioan, nine, and Tess, 11, freed themselves from the vehicles and swam to the bank, but Mr Cox was said to have been unconscious in the front of his blue Toyota Aygo.
Witnesses told how Ioan ran three-quarters of a mile back down the path to tell neighbours ‘Daddy’s trapped’, while Tess ran back and forth twice to get help.
Neighbours and Mrs Cox frantically tried to free Mr Cox, 42, but it was around 40 minutes before he was carried to the riverbank.
A lack of mobile phone signal in the area and the icy conditions meant emergency services arrived 30 minutes after the cars left the road.
After the incident both the Aygo and the second vehicle, a silver Toyota Rav4, could be seen upturned side by side in the River Wye half-a-mile from the family’s cottage at Blackwell Mill, near Buxton, Derbyshire.
The vehicles were later removed from the freezing river as emergency services, including local mountain rescue services, flocked to the scene.
Neighbour Victoria Bamber, 32, who was the first person alerted to the accident by Ioan, waded into the icy water and battled in vain to save BBC worker Mr Cox.
She said: ‘Ioan came banging on the door saying, “There’s been an accident, Daddy is trapped”.
‘When I got to the scene I could only see the silver 4×4 upside down in the water and Ruth was desperately trying to find David. I jumped in the water. It was freezing cold and came above my waist. I kept diving down but I could not see anything.
‘The 4×4 had landed up against the driver’s door (of the Aygo) so David couldn’t get out. The rear window was smashed and I think that was how Tess had managed to get out of the car.
‘We were trying to get in through the passenger door but we couldn’t move it. Then I picked up a large rock and smashed the window. The electrics gave out and the central locking failed and we got the door open.’
She said she helped drag Mr Cox from the car, before the emergency services began CPR on the riverside.
The family were airlifted to Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, 20 miles away, but while the mother and children were released after treatment, Mr Cox could not be saved.
Mrs Bamber said she was in ‘total shock’ at what had unfolded. ‘I can’t imagine what Ruth is feeling right now. She did everything she could. She did her best to get David out.
‘Now I’m left thinking I let her and the children down. I did my best but it was not enough.’
The slow flowing river was about 3ft deep at the accident scene. Locals described the condition of the track as appalling, with ice on top of frozen snow.
The family only moved in to the £250,000 property a year ago.
Caitlin Blake, a former neighbour of the couple, from Alton, Hampshire, described Mr Cox as a ‘lovely man’.
The 33-year-old said: ‘David and Ruth were so close. When they lived here they were very private and spent nearly all of their time together. David was always a loving father.’
Another former neighbour added: ‘David was very family orientated and spent a lot of his time with his children.
‘He would always lend a hand and see if I was all right as I live on my own.’
Colleagues of Mr Cox, who worked for the BBC as part of the Future Media team in Salford, paid tribute to him.
His job entailed coverage of the Olympics for the corporation’s red button service, the interactive text and video system accessed through televisions.
Tim Davie, the BBC’s acting director general, said: ‘We are very sad to learn of David’s tragic death.
‘He was a popular member of the Future Media team in Salford and had been key to the success of the red button service during the Olympics in the summer.
‘Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues here at the BBC at this difficult time.’
Roux Joubert, head of TV and mobile platforms, said: ‘David was an important member of the team and played a central role in the department.
‘He will be sorely missed by everyone here and our thoughts are with his family at this time.”
One of the neighbours said: ‘It’s a really treacherous path along by the river, they haven’t been here long, perhaps they just weren’t aware of how dangerous it can be when it’s been snowing.’
Paul Hawker of Buxton fire station said: ‘You can only imagine what his family and neighbours went through. They must have been frantic.’
A police spokesman said the death was a ‘tragic accident’ and said they had launched an investigation into the incident.
Last night, forecasters warned up to six inches of snow could fall over northern Britain today, with between two and four inches falling across the rest of the country.
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