Man died after taking dip in Doncaster river while five times over drink drive limit

A farm worker died after going for a dip in the River Don while more than five times over the drink drive limit, a Doncaster inquest has heard.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 4:14 pm

Arvids Puzanovs, 29, died after leaping into the river near Mexborough last summer during a fishing trip with friends.

But Doncaster Coroner’s Court heard that Mr Puzanovs, a Latvian national, had drunk large amounts of wine, whisky and homemade alcohol before plunging into the water near Dearne Valley Leisure Centre and had got into difficulties soon after deciding to go for a swim on one of the hottest days of last year.

The court was told that Mr Puzanovs, a farm worker, who lived at Main Street, Mexborough, had decided to go on an angling expedition on June 29 last year with a group of friends, also Latvian and Eastern European nationals.

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Arvids Puzanovs (Photo: Facebook).

Mr Puzanovs arrived for the trip drinking from a bottle of wine and the group then went to buy whisky and beer from a nearby garage before heading down to the river bank near Pastures Road where they continued to drink heavily throughout the day.

Friend Rustams Sukjurovs said that several of the group had abandoned the fishing trip midway through the day because of the blazing temperatures and Mr Puzanovs had fallen asleep on the river bank.

On waking some time later, Mr Puzanovs had removed his footwear, but still clothed, plunged into the river to cool off.

However, it soon became clear he was in difficulty and Mr Sukjurovs leapt into the river in attempt to save his friend, it was revealed, in written evidence presented to the court.

Mr Sukjurovs, who was unable to speak English, told a Russian translator: “Arvids took his flip flops off and plunged into the water in his shorts and vest.

“I attempted to pull him out by his hair, but because he had short hair, I lost grip and he went under the water.”

After watching Mr Puzanovs slip under the water, Mr Sukjurovs returned to the river bank and phoned friends who alerted the emergency services.

Despite an extensive search by fire and police diving teams, Mr Puzanovs’s body was not found until the following day.

He added: “I could not see Arvids. I felt helpless.”

Pathologist Dr Steven Beck, who carried out a post mortem examination, said that there were no marks on Mr Puzanovs’s body that suggested any suspicious circumstances.

Blood tests revealed a blood alcohol level of 408mg per 100ml – more than five times the drink drive limit.

He said that while the alcohol level was extremely high, it appeared not to have had the effect on Mr Puzanovs that would have been expected in others and that it had not contributed to the cause of death, which he said was ‘freshwater immersion.’

None of Mr Puzanovs’s friends or family were in court for the hearing, despite numerous attempts to contact them by telephone and letter.

Assistant Coroner Louise Slater said that the temperature of the water and the shock it would have had on Mr Puzanovs’s body was the main factor in his death, rather than drowning.

She said: “It would appear that he willing and voluntarily entered the water to cool off. There is no evidence to suggest alcohol played a part in his decision making.”

“Jumping into the cold river sent his body into a state of shock.”

She recorded a verdict of misadventure.