Brave holidaymakers dived into the River Wensum in bid to rescue stricken 29-year-old

Fire fighters at the scene of the incident on Riverside Road, Norwich. Picture: MARC BETTS.

Fire fighters at the scene of the incident on Riverside Road, Norwich. Picture: MARC BETTS. - Credit: Archant

Holidaymakers 'bravely' dived into the River Wensum in a bid to save a 29-year-old woman who had slipped off the quayside, an inquest has heard.

Liane Gairn had been drinking heavily at the Riverside Guest House on September 4 last year. She began causing a 'disturbance' and attempted to set off the fire extinguisher, Norfolk Coroner's Court heard.

Around 10pm that night, witnesses described Ms Gairn staggering along Riverside Road before squeezing through railings onto the quayside and stumbling into the water.

Peter Burnham, a hospital consultant from Liverpool, was on holiday in Norfolk on a boat moored by the Wensum when he heard a 'loud bang'.

'I looked out and saw a male clinging on to my boat, shouting that someone had gone into the water,' he said.

'I saw a female in the water and I pulled her up by her clothing. As I got her top half out of the water my son took hold of her body and pulled her fully out of the water.

'I checked for a pulse, and as none was there I commenced CPR and a passer-by called the ambulance.'

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Gordon Rennie was in a cruiser moored on the river when he saw a woman falling onto the pavement, the court heard.

'After opening the boat door I saw a female face down in the water who appeared lifeless,' he said. 'I took my top off and jumped into the river to help. I tried to lift the body up but couldn't due to the weight. Another person assisted me in getting her out and a male hanging onto the boat was shouting he could not swim, so I went to help him. I got him out of the water and then assisted CPR.'

Ms Gairn was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital but passed away on September 6.

A post mortem showed on admission to hospital Ms Gairn had a blood alchohol level of 173mg in 100ml of breath, with traces of cannabis and cocaine indicating historic use.

Ms Gairn had recently moved to Chapel House having recently been discharged from rehab at Hebron House. The court heard she had a restraining order against her former partner, who had reported her missing.

DC Jonathan Cotteril said in a statement Ms Gairn was known to police, with markers against her name for depression, PTSD, hearing voices and multiple suicide attempts.

No evidence was heard of any mental health treatment.

Senior coroner for Norfolk Jacqueline Lake recorded a conclusion of accident. The cause of death was recorded as bronchopneumonia and an ischaemic liver injury and drowning as a result of acute alcohol intoxication.

'Her fall into the water was unintentional and as the result of drinking alcohol,' said Mrs Lake, adding 'I would like to thank those who helped on the day, particularly those who bravely jumped into the river in an attempt to save her.'

The Samaritans helpline, which is free to call, is on 116 123 for anyone who needs to talk or who needs emotional support.