Four teenagers who disappeared on a camping trip in North Wales drowned after their car left a road, a coroner has said.
The inquests into the deaths of Jevon Hirst, 16, Harvey Owen, 17, Wilf Fitchett, 17, and Hugo Morris, 18, all from the Shropshire area, were opened and adjourned on Wednesday. None of the teenagers' families attended the brief four-minute hearing in which Kate Robertson, HM Coroner for North West Wales, stated the provisional cause of their deaths was drowning.
The bodies of the friends were found in a silver Ford Fiesta on November 21. A major search was launched for the A-level students after they failed to return home to Shropshire from an overnight camping trip to the Snowdonia area. The car had left the A4085 at Garreg, near Tremadog, overturned, and was partially submerged in water, North Wales Police said.
On Wednesday, coroner Ms Robertson said the students were all formally identified to police by family members. She said: “The four young men were travelling in a vehicle along the A4085 at Llanfrothen when the vehicle has left the road. The circumstances of which resulted in the deaths of all four occupants.
“Post-mortem examinations have been undertaken and the provisional causes of death provided, pending inquests.” A police investigation remains ongoing, she said. Ms Robertson concluded: “I offer the families my sincerest condolences. These inquests will be adjourned pending completion of those further investigations.” No date has been set for the full hearings.
The force wants dashcam footage from anyone travelling on the A4085 between Penrhyndeudraeth and Beddgelert in either direction between 11am on Sunday November 19 and 10am on Tuesday November 21. In a tribute, Harvey's mother Crystal Owen described him as "a unique and special person who touched so many people along the way".
She said: "There are absolutely no words to describe the pain we are feeling at the loss of the most precious soul and no words to really explain how much of a special person Harvey was." She added: "Harvey was a unique and special person who touched so many people along the way.
"Laid back, charismatic, cheeky, a boy not of his time, he always thought outside the box, he was creative and funny. A boy that preferred to be outside and active. He was the most gentle soul, always feeling empathy for people and seeing the good in everyone. Quirky, a trendsetter, loving, pure and hilarious."
Wilf's girlfriend, Maddi Corfield, posted a tribute online, writing: "I love you so much, I'm going to miss you forever. The sweetest and most loving boy I've ever known. I hope you know how much I love you, gorgeous." Shrewsbury Colleges Group, where the boys were A-level students, offered "deepest condolences to the family and friends" of the teenagers and said it had put in place a range of support measures to help those affected.
Superintendent Owain Llewellyn said after the discovery: "Police officers attended and located a Ford Fiesta vehicle on its roof, partially submerged in water. Tragically, the bodies of four young males were recovered from within the vehicle. The families of the missing boys have been informed.
"At present, this appears to have been a tragic accident, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the four young men at this very difficult time." Inquiries into why the car left the road are under way, the force said.