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East Lancashire lecturer drowned after falling into canal
1:00pm Friday 14th February 2014 in News
A LECTURER found dead in a canal drowned accidentally, an inquest has found.
Blackburn Coroners Court heard Gary Forkasiewicz had breathed water into his lungs, after falling into the Leeds and Liverpool canal in December.
A pathologist said the 53-year-old, who was found half a mile from his Feniscowles home, could have died instantly from shock.
Dr Muhammad Aslam said Mr Forkasiewicz could also have lost oxygen to the brain in a very short space of time.
Derek Baker, assistant coroner for Blackburn, said there was no evidence to suggest violence or suicide. He added that Mr Forkasiewicz’s alcohol levels of twice the legal driving limit made falling more likely and escape from the water difficult.
He said: “The alcohol levels were not significantly high, but high enough to affect balance and co-ordination.”
The inquest heard from Jacob Hitchen, who spoke to Mr Forkasiewicz in the Butlers Arms around 9.30pm on the night of his death, Friday December 20.
He said: “He seemed fine and said he was going on to the Station in Cherry Tree.”
No witnesses from the Station pub had been found but police said the unlit canal towpath would have been a short cut to his home from that direction.
Mr Baker returned a verdict of accidental death.
He said: “There was no lighting and we have heard the water was a foot and a half below a muddy bank. Not only could he have gone into instant shock, he would have had difficulty getting out in time.”
A keen guitarist, Mr Forkasiewicz was known for playing in an acoustic duo in pubs and enjoyed a drink in the Railway and the Butlers Arms.
The inquest heard the Accrington and Rossendale lecturer and assessor, who taught agriculture and horticulture, had been happy and positive before his death.
His brother Peter said: “He was very happy in his work and financially he was doing well. As far as he was concerned, the future was bright.”
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