Norfolk lake death: Kristers Bednarskis died of misadventure

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image copyrightIan Burt
image captionFire fighters assisted police in finding Kristers Bednarskis' body after he disappeared into the water at Bawsey Country Park, near King's Lynn

A man who drowned while celebrating his birthday with friends at a beauty spot died through misadventure, a coroner has concluded.

Kristers Bednarskis, 22, from Peterborough, went to Bawsey Country Park in Norfolk on 8 August with his girlfriend and friends.

The pair blew up a camping mattress to float out on the water-filled quarry, but Mr Bednarskis got into difficulty.

Norfolk senior coroner Jacqueline Lake offered her "sympathy" to his family.

Ms Lake told the inquest, held remotely, there were various signs warning people to keep out of the water, not to swim and of the dangers of cold water.

"The signage is there to protect the public and people do need to take responsibility," she said.

image copyrightIan Burt
image captionFellow visitors had tried to rescue Mr Bednarskis before the emergency services arrived

Latvian-born Mr Bednarskis had gone to the former sand quarry, near King's Lynn, two days after his birthday, the inquest heard.

His girlfriend of two months, Gabriele Dulksnyte, said in a statement she did not know how well he could swim and they had originally intended to go camping.

But they ended up inflating the air mattress at the park and went out onto the water after the warehouse worker removed his glasses and hearing aid.

She swam back to shore but spotted he had drifted into deeper water and had become separated from the bed.

She said Mr Bednarskis had his hands in the air and was shouting for help.

His body was found by emergency services later that day and a post-mortem examination found he had drowned.

Previous deaths

In 2013, a 16-year-old boy and a 41-year-old man who swam out to look for him, also died at the site, known locally as Bawsey Pits.

"I do find it tragic that deaths are still occurring here," said Ms Lake.

She went on to say she was "heartened" that landowner Bawsey Ltd was working with a number of public agencies to look at safety measures and noted the land must remain open for the public.

King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council ordered a report following the death and said visitors described the conditions as "choppy, with a stiff breeze".

It said it was believed the inflatable mattress should not have been used in water.

It also made five recommendations for the landowner to consider.

These included reviewing safety signs, employing more staff at peak times and providing information on What3words, a web app which can be used to pinpoint exact locations for the benefit of emergency services.

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