Barman suffocated on urinal floor

Last updated 05:00 09/05/2014

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A 28-year-old Winton hospitality worker's rare death after drinking too much alcohol is a warning to others, a coroner says.

Kirusanth Thangaraju, a barman, was found dead in the toilet area of the Winton Hotel, the Bottom Pub, about 2am on September 8.

Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar, in his formal written findings released yesterday, said Thangaraju had been drinking alcohol and socialising in the bar of the hotel before going to the toilet.

It was later found he had died of positional asphyxia.

Crerar highlighted the "real risk" of consuming alcohol to excess.

A person dying of positional asphyxia is rare but not abnormal, he says.

"Those persons who consume alcohol to excess [the blood alcohol concentration of Thangaraju was approaching three times the blood alcohol level at which it is illegal to drive a car] . . . an individual loses control of his or her own safety and runs a real risk of suffering the consequences."

Witnesses said that on the night of his death, Thangaraju was in high spirits and not overly intoxicated, Crerar said.

About 1.55am a staff member, while checking doors were locked, found Thangaraju sitting on the floor in the urinal.

She called out and shook him but he was unresponsive, he said.

Thangaraju was sitting with his back leaning against the toilet wall and his head slumped forward with his legs flat on the ground.

A bucket of water thrown over him had no effect.

Crerar found Thangaraju died of positional asphyxia.

"Whilst intoxicated, Krish Thangaraju has either collapsed to or sat in a position which allowed his head to drop forward over his chest and restrict his ability to breathe in the normal manner."

His blood alcohol level was 209mg.

Police were satisfied there was no criminal liability or suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

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