Inquest rules death of man in waterway was accidental

Gary Sanders

Gary Sanders - Credit: Archant

The family of a 43-year-old man who drowned in a culvert have told an inquest that he was turning his life around.

Gary Sanders, of St Ann’s Lane, in Godmanchester, was found dead in a culvert near Sayers Street on January 6, after being missing for more than two weeks.

An inquest into his death, held at Lawrence Court, in Huntingdon, on Thursday, heard that a search of the creak, where Mr Sanders died, was made after a sighting by an officer at Huntingdon Police Station.

A report by Detective Inspector Mark Greenhalgh said that an extensive search was carried out to find Mr Sanders and on January 6 a coat and bag belonging to him was found on the edge of the waterway.

DI Greenhalgh said that once Mr Sanders had fallen into the water he took off his large puffer coat to get back out.


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As the bank was slippery, he was unable to climb out of the water and swam to the tunnel but would have had very little room to walk as the water was high.

In an attempt to find Gary, a Spartan Rescue team was called to search the culvert and his body was discovered.

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“He was found 20 feet from the end of the tunnel that was grated shut,” said DI Greenhalgh.

In the week before his death, Mr Sanders had been on holiday with his girlfriend in Finland.

A toxicology report carried out by Dr Sue Patterson confirmed that Mr Sanders had 0.14 micrograms of heroin in his system – it was noted that a toxic level is 0.15 micrograms.

The report also found that he had 12 micrograms of alcohol in his body.

This was confirmed by a post mortem that determined that Mr Sanders died from drowning and acute heroin intoxication.

Mr Sanders’ sister, Dawn Johnson, said: “He did have a really lovely time in Finland and he was positive about life which he hadn’t been for a very long time.”

Senior coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, David Heming recorded a conclusion that Mr Sander’s death was accidental.

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