A YOUNG soldier had drunk 16 pints of lager and some wine before he died in the River Foss, an inquest has heard.

Signaller Stephen Fry, 20, was a member of 2 Signal Regiment based at Imphal Barracks in Fulford, and drowned in the Foss after drinking heavily in York on July 8 last year.

The previous year he had attended the funeral of fellow Signaller Tyler Pearson, following his death by drowning in the River Ouse, and he had heard a river safety briefing from officers at Fulford.

An inquest heard yesterday that Sig Fry had been bowling with members of his regiment and later gone out into York with friends, where he had been asked to leave Yates' in Low Ousegate by staff.

York Press:

Police at the scene in July last year

York Press:

Joshua O'Donnell, also of 2 Signal, said Sig Fry told him he had "drunk about 10 pints" before going out at about 6.45pm that night, but "seemed happy", and "was being loud, talking to random people and dancing around in the street".

They then drank another six pints of beer, the inquest heard, at which point Sig O'Donnell said Sig Fry "seemed a little preoccupied", and downed about a quarter of a bottle of white wine, which was when staff in Yates' began to get concerned about him.

Paul Myers, general manager of the bar, said he had noticed Sig Fry "who appeared to be very drunk" and appeared to be annoying other customers by dancing close to them. Security staff asked him to leave the bar just after 10pm, and Mr Myers said Sig Fry appeared "pleasant", shaking peoples' hands and thanking staff on his way out.

The inquest heard Sig Fry was later seen near Coney Street by a group of friends, where he appeared unsteady on his feet and his speech was largely unintelligible.

The inquest heard he told them "something like 'you're not listening to me, no-one listens to me'", and when they could not understand him, he became agitated, so they quickly walked away.

A woman walking in Piccadilly that night heard splashing and saw Sig Fry swimming for the bridge over the Foss, but as she phoned the emergency services lost sight of him and eventually the splashing and laboured breathing stopped.

At about 7.10am the following day, Sig Fry's wallet was found in the gardens of the Merchant Adventurer's Hall, and the Yorkshire and The Humber underwater search team discovered his body on the bed of the Foss at about 11.40am.

Coroner Jonathan Leach said post mortem analysis of Sig Fry's blood found 284mg of alcohol per decilitre of blood, about 3.5 times the drink drive limit of 80mg/100dl.

He recorded a verdict of accidental death and said: "Regretfully, this is another tragic loss of a young life due to a toxic mixture of excess alcohol and water."