Heartsease woman’s tragic drowning at Wroxham

A woman who drowned in the river at Wroxham Broad died accidentally, an inquest heard.

Susan Spear, 54, who lived at Compass Tower in Heartsease with her friend, Kevin Williams, died on Sunday, March 27.

Ms Spear and Mr Williams were spending the afternoon on board Mr Williams' boat and were planning on cruising to Ranworth. The pair, who both suffer from learning difficulties, were not in a relationship. A post-mortem examination revealed Ms Spear died from drowning.

The boat was running low on fuel and Mr Williams rowed a dinghy boat ashore to buy some more, leaving Ms Spear on the cruiser. He told her he would be about half an hour.

Hazel and John Gibson, who were sitting in their car at the broad, witnessed the incident. Mrs Gibson said: 'I saw a lady getting out of the back window of the boat. I immediately thought, 'What on Earth?', because it was getting cold. My husband looked up and we saw the lady slither into the water. She didn't fall. She was splashing around and then all of a sudden it stopped. At first we thought she must be snorkelling, but I thought of the time of day and thought it can't be right.'

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The couple then sought help from people living in a house nearby who called the emergency services.

Ms Spear was fully clothed and wearing shoes.

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By the time Mr Williams returned from getting petrol, she had died. He said: 'I wish I was there when the accident happened. I am very sorry for leaving her on her own.'

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said: 'It is a puzzle why she got off the boat and into the water; sadly she drowned as a result. There were no suspicious circumstances. When Kevin left Susan she was behaving perfectly normal. I am satisfied that her death was accidental and I would like to express my sympathy to him.'

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