Broads bridge pilot drowned after falling into icy water after pub

A popular Broads bridge pilot drowned when he fell into icy water on his way home from the pub, an inquest heard.

Graham Cook, 38, was found face-down in the water the next morning by colleagues, and tests showed alcohol levels in his body were more than four times the legal drink drive limit.

Mr Cook had been the bridge pilot of the medieval bridge over the River Thurne at Potter Heigham, and was found dead on February 3, close to the motor cruiser where he lived most of the time.

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong yesterday recorded that Mr Cook died as a result of accidental drowning, at an inquest attended by Mr Cook's parents and brother.

Speaking afterwards, Robin Richardson, director of the Phoenix Fleet boatyard where Mr Cook worked, paid tribute to his friend as a popular and sociable man 'with a love for his job and the area around the bridge'.

'He had been with us for 22 years after joining on a YTS scheme when he was 16,' added Mr Richardson. 'He enjoyed the social aspect of the job, and he had a natural easy way with people.'

The court was told that Mr Cook, who also sometimes stayed at his parents' house in nearby Rollesby, had finished his day's work at 5pm and arrived at the nearby Broads Haven Tavern at 6pm, where he stayed until 11.15pm.

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During that time he drank seven pints of strong lager and a double whisky and coke, bar manager Liam O'Dea said, but had left in high spirits.

When he failed to turn up for work the next morning, his colleague Paul Tenant went to rouse him from his boat and found him in a dyke close to the river.

'I just saw the back of Graham's jacket, which was full up of air and he was lying face down in the water. He was encircled in ice,' said Mr Tenant.

Police and paramedics attended the scene but Mr Cook was pronounced dead at the scene.

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