A young man who was ‘in love with life’ died after losing his footing and falling into Bristol harbour hours after watching England’s victory over Croatia in the Euros.
Joseph Omar was seen to ‘stumble and fall backwards’ off the city centre dock into the water on June 13, at around 10pm - six hours after watching England’s group stage win in a nearby pub, our sister title BristolWorld reports.
A documentary inquest held at Avon Coroner’s Court yesterday ( November 23) heard that three friends jumped in after Mr Omar in an attempt to rescue him, but he never surfaced.
The 23-year-old’s body was pulled from the water by police divers the next day.
In a statement read at the hearing, close friend Chris Hoyland said he was ‘suffering from shock’ after witnessing the death.
He said that Mr Omar, with whom he had studied at Brighton University, was working as a data analyst and was from Hampshire but living in Hove.
He had travelled to Bristol for a catch-up with friends and they watched England’s win over Croatia in the group stage of the Euros at a harbourside pub while ‘drinking heavily’ into the evening.
Mr Omar ended up bumping into another group of friends and they all moved to Narrow Quay where they continued chatting and drinking.
But as Mr Omar flitted from group to group, Mr Hoyland watched in horror as he saw his friend ‘seem to trip or stumble’ before landing in the water.
Mr Hoyland said: “I took my clothes off and jumped in, but by the time I was in the water Joseph was nowhere to be seen.
“It was pitch black and I couldn’t see anything in the harbour. At this point I really started to panic and shouted at people standing on the side of the dock for help.
“Two of Joseph’s other friends jumped in at this point. I shouted, “I can’t find him - he’s going to die.’”
Bristol resident Hannah Mead was sitting outside the Arnolfini with her boyfriend when she saw a man falling backwards into the harbour before dialling 999.
She said the man ‘made no effort to surface or thrash around’ before ‘he completely disappeared’.
Dr Karen Denton, who carried out a post-mortem report, said there were ‘significant levels’ of alcohol in Mr Omar’s blood.
These levels would have been conducive with a ‘lack of co-ordination’ and ‘obvious drunkenness’, she added.
‘Small amounts’ of cocaine were also traced, but Mr Omar was not thought to have taken the drug in the lead-up to his death.
As no water was found in his lungs, Mr Omar was not believed to have drowned - the medical cause of death was given as ‘due to immersion in water’.
Adam Omar, Joseph’s brother, said: “Joseph was in great health. He went to the gym regularly and played rugby every week.
“He had a loving partner and a wide circle of friends. His funeral was attended by hundreds of people.
“He was in love with life.”
Assistant coroner for the Avon region, Myfanwy Buckeridge, said: “Given that this wasn’t a deliberate act and the deceased seemed to stumble and lose his footing before falling into the water, my conclusion is that this was a death due to accident.”
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