Creek drowning a 'sad accident'

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 15:03 06/03/2014

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When a drunk, agitated man jumped a deer fence his mates thought he was going for some alone time, but it was the solitude of death which greeted him on the other side.

James Berry, 30, of Napier, died after falling down a steep 10-15 metre bank and drowning in a creek near Ohakune last year, Coroner Carla na Nagara found in her findings released today.

Berry had travelled from Napier to Ohakune on June 14 with his partner, Kare Rogers, to visit family and friends and listen to a band at a local bar.

They arrived about 7.30pm and had a few drinks at Berry's cousin Robert's house, before heading to the bar.

About 11.30pm Berry was involved in a stand-off with another man in the bar's bathroom.

That man was kicked out and Berry went outside to have a drink with Rogers.

There he got into a heated argument with Rogers, in which Robert had to intervene.

Berry was so fired up that he had to be removed from the bar and taken away from the area.

Robert's brother Jason was tasked with managing Berry while Robert took others home.

During this time Berry got away from Jason and jumped a deer fence.

When Robert returned from dropping people off, Jason told him what had happened, at which point the pair started calling out to Berry.

Initially Robert was not concerned, thinking Berry was "either having quiet time, or had walked out through the paddock" on the other side of the fence.

But Berry was in trouble, having fallen down the steep drop and into a creek.

Robert found Berry with the top half of his body underwater.

The pair immediately began efforts to resuscitate him and called an ambulance, who declared him dead at the scene.

The cause of death was drowning, which a forensic pathologist said may have been aided by Berry hitting his head during the fall and losing consciousness.

Coroner na Nagara said Berry's death was a sad accident and extended sympathy to his family and friends for their loss.

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- The Dominion Post

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