A ROWING coach died due to a combination of heart disease and a fall into the cold River Wear.
Bill Grant, 67, from Sunniside Terrace in Cleadon, was training a crew of four along the water in Durham on the morning of Saturday, February 28, when he fell into the water.
An inquest into the former jeweller’s death heard how the Durham Amateur Rowing Club members he was training expected him to get up after they heard him shout and fall from the bike and into the river.
But instead he remained face down and as they swam over, saw he was suffering from a convulsion.
The crew and two passing medical students who had been running by pulled him out and started to try and resuscitate him, with a 999 called to summons paramedics.
But despite their efforts and the help of an air ambulance team, Bill, who was well known through his family-run a shop in Kings Street, South Shields, could not be saved.
Dr Paul Barrett, who carried out a post mortem examination, did not find he had suffered a heart attack, but established he had suffered from an enlarged heart, hypertension and a 50 per cent narrowing of the right coronary artery.
He said Bill had suffered grazes to his shoulder and cuts to his lower lip likely to have been caused by the incident and fractured ribs and other injuries linked to CPR.
While no water was found in his lungs to suggest drowning, he highlighted “dry drowning” after he fell from a height.
Dr Barrett, who noted Bill had appeared to have a healthy and active lifestyle, gave the cause of death as immersion in water and hypertensive heart disease.
The coroner Andrew Tweddle recorded a narrative verdict which said Bill died as a consequence if sudden immersion in the River Wear following a natural non-accidental event while riding his peddle cycle.
As part of his questioning of Dr Barrett the pair agreed the fall could have caused shock to Bill’s system and had struggled to cope.
He told the hearing in Crook, which was attended by Bill’s wife and son: “It doesn’t feel as if Bill neatly falls into one category of the other.
“While he had some heart problems, as Dr Barrett said, his problems were not enough to cause his death at that time.
“If it wasn’t for him going into the water in the way he did he might not have died in the way he did.
“The police were unable to find any defect with his bike or path and there did not appear to be a skid.
“He probably had an event while riding on his bike and then gone down the bank side and into the water.
“You may say it’s bad luck. He might have felt pretty unwell for a bit, got up and walked away.
“The combination of what happened had led to his death.”