Man drowned drunkenly urinating off boat

ACCIDENT: Patrick Rosson drowned in 2011.
ACCIDENT: Patrick Rosson drowned in 2011.

A Porirua man who drowned after falling off a launch in the Marlborough Sounds had been drunkenly urinating off a boat.

A coroner's report released today ruled that Patrick Rosson, 49, accidentally drowned on August 27, 2011 after becoming intoxicated and leaning over the side of a launch to urinate into the sea.

On the day of his death, Rosson and his friend Gordon Hanna were touring the Marlborough Sounds on Hanna's 24-foot launch.

The pair stopped in at Furneaux Lodge for a "round of beers" before visiting another friend's house for more beers.

They left the house about 5.30pm, intending to make the 90-minute trip back to Hanna's house in time to watch the rugby.

The staff at Furneaux Lodge described Rosson as "moderately drunk" and Hanna said he was "swaying a little as he walked".

Rosson slept in the cabin of the launch for the return trip but woke as they were entering Dryden Bay, where Hanna lived, and needed to go to the toilet.

As Rosson headed out of the cabin to urinate over the side of the boat, Hanna said he warned him to be careful.

Rosson replied he would "be all right".

Shortly afterwards, Hanna described feeling the boat shift which "was odd as it was a calm night".

There were no boats nearby.

He looked out the window thinking Rosson but couldn't see his friend.

Realising he wasn't on the boat, Hanna turned the boat around and saw Rosson in the water, his hand in the air.

He threw a rope to Rosson but it didn't reach him and he floated away from the boat, face down in the water and "unresponsive".

Hanna turned the boat around and managed to grab his friend but could not lift him onto the boat.

He secured Rosson with rope, so that he wouldn't float away, and radioed for help.

Police arrived and Rosson was declared dead.

An autopsy found Rossen had a blood alcohol of 236 mg per 100 mil, almost three times higher than the legal blood alcohol limit.

His urine alcohol level was 332mg, which indicated he may have been more intoxicated earlier in the day.

Coroner Carla na Nagara ruled Rosson's level of drunkenness was "the primary contributing factor to his ultimate demise".

"Sadly, Mr Rosson's death serves as another reminder of the very real risk implicit in being intoxicated on boats and is not the first such case I have dealt with," she said.

"It is highly likely that had he not been intoxicated he would not have ended up in the water in the first place and he may also have been in a position to assist with rescue."

The Press