Sheffield mum’s heartache as girl drowns in bath

Gabrielle Smith: drowned in the bath.
Gabrielle Smith: drowned in the bath.

A mother has spoken bravely of the heartbreaking moment she battered down her bathroom door and tried to save her little girl from drowning in the bath.

Faye Smith broke through the door in seconds after her 12-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, failed to respond to her knocks and calls.

A Sheffield inquest heard Gabrielle, known as Gabi to her friends, had suffered a violent seizure the previous year and was diagnosed with non-epileptic attack disorder.

But Faye was told there was no reason not to allow Gabi to do things by herself, like take a bath and cross roads.

Faye, who lives on Banner Cross Road, Sheffield, with her son, Zach, told the inquest that Gabi’s best friend, Rebecca, had been at their house for a sleepover the night before the tragedy.

On the morning of March 16, Gabi was having a bath before meeting another friend.

“I was sitting with my son and having a cup of tea, then Rebecca knocked on my door and said, ‘Faye, Gabi has been in there for ages’.

“Zach and I looked at each other. I jumped off the bed and ran into the corridor. I was shouting through the bathroom door, ‘Gabi, talk to me, I’m worried about you. I’m breaking this door down if you don’t talk to me’.

“I took several steps back and I kicked the door down in seconds.”

Faye, a well-known communications consultant in Sheffield, said Gabi’s moods had suffered following the death of her father three years ago in May.

“She had said on several occasions she wanted to be with her dad again.

“But I explained that meant that she would be dead too, and I said she was very much loved and adored, and if she died that would be two tragedies.

“But on that weekend she was bright and cheerful.

“What Gabi loved was having her friends around her, especially her best friend.”

Assistant Coroner Louise Slater recorded a narrative verdict that Gabi died as a result of drowning.