British cousins drowned during boat trip in Vienna

Two British cousins died together after one sacrificed his own life in an attempt to save the other from drowning during a boat trip on holiday.

Joel Aniyankunj, 19, lost his life heroically trying to rescue Jason Varghese, 15, when he got caught in underwater weeds, an inquest has heard.

The pair, from Bolton, Manchester, were swimming in the Old Danube lake in Vienna after the family hired a motor boat on August 23, last year. 

Five family members, including Jason's younger brother Jenson, 13, helplessly watched as the pair were both dragged beneath the surface of the water. 

Joel Aniyankunj

Jason Varghese

Joel Aniyankunj, 19, (left) lost his life trying to rescue his cousin Jason Varghese, 15 (right)

The boys were 'getting bored' so relatives had offered to take them boating at the popular lake.

Jason, a high flying student who was described as 'fit and athletic', got tangled in vegetation and shouted: 'I think I'm sinking'.

Jason Varghese, 15, died after getting caught in the reeds

Jason Varghese, 15, died after getting caught in the reeds

Joel, a popular IT apprentice who was 'more like a brother' to his cousin, told him not to panic as he swam over to help. 

Their bodies were found around five hours later by a team of ten Austrian divers. 

An inquest in Bolton heard the tragedy occurred on August 23 last year, four days after the youngsters had arrived for a family holiday.

In a statement their cousin Jerina Pannikadavil said: 'My sister, Sherina, and I wanted to go on a boat ride - it was 37C that day and we were really excited to go on this boat trip. 

'My sister said we will be the first to drown because we don't know how to swim. The Jason said 'me and Joel know how to swim so we will both help you.'

'Joel and Jason got in the water and swam around. I don't know how far away Jason was, but he had a worried face. I heard him say 'I think I'm sinking.' 

'I remember Joel saying 'don't worry, I'm coming to you.' We shouted for help and other swimmers came to help.' 

Joel Aniyankunj, 19, had tried to help his younger cousin

Joel Aniyankunj, 19, had tried to help his younger cousin 

Sherina added: 'I do not know how to start or where to begin, it tears my heart apart. I felt sorry for the boys because they had come to Vienna for fun and I couldn't bear to see them on the sofa on their mobile phones.  

'Before we could reach them, they sunk down. Other swimmers tried to look for them, but it was pitch black under the water.' 

Jason's mother Suby Varghese, a nurse, said: 'Jason was a very fit, athletic young man who was a good swimmer. He had lessons from the age of six and he took qualifications in swimming. He was a very good student who

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