Inquest hears how bystanders tried in vain to rescue Norwich man who jumped from flat into River Wensum
PUBLISHED: 08:07 27 July 2016 | UPDATED: 08:07 27 July 2016
An inquest has heard how canoeists and passers-by tried to save the life of a man who drowned after jumping from his Norwich flat balcony.
The body of Michael Byrne, 52, was found in the River Wensum, close to Carrow Bridge, on the morning of December 6 last year after witnesses reported seeing him jump from his King Street flat.
At the inquest into his death, which was held at Norfolk Coroner’s Court in Norwich yesterday morning, the court heard how those nearby tried in vain to rescue him.
Tracy McCarron-Row was driving over Carrow Bridge when she saw a man jumping from the block of flats.
In a statement read aloud to the court, she said that after pulling over and rushing to the bridge it initially “looked like he was trying to get to the other side”.
She said: “Then his head went under a few times. There were two young girls in a rowing boat not far from another man in a boat who tried to help.
“We tried to throw the life ring in but it was pointless, as he was unresponsive. One of the guys on the river bank got into the water but he got stuck.
“We were still trying to get the male out of the water - I heard someone shout ‘he’s got a pulse’.”
Emergency services arrived at the scene but were unable to save him.
The inquest heard how Mr Byrne, a former rugby player, had struggled with alcohol and drug abuse in the past, was coping with personal troubles at the time and had recently been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.
But Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake said she was not sure “beyond reasonable doubt” that Mr Byrne intended to kill himself.
She recorded a short narrative verdict which said: “On December 5, 2015, Michael Byrne was seen to jump in to the River Wensum from his flat and he died from drowning. The evidence does not disclose his intention at that time.”
At the time of his death, Pat Carter, chairman of North Walsham Rugby Club’s playing committee during Mr Byrne’s days as a hooker in the late 1990s, said he was a “great stalwart” of the club.
“He was a natural leader, enthusiastic, very popular and a great character,” he said.
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