A man whose body was recovered from the River Aire last week may have fallen in while talking on his phone, an inquest heard.
The inquest into the death of Steven John Doyle, of Kingsmead, Pontefract, opened in Wakefield yesterday.
It heard how police were called to reports that a man had fallen into the River Aire near the Golden Lion Pub just after midnight on January 21.
Coroner David Hinchliff said Mr Doyle, who was a welder by occupation, had been seen walking unsteadily along the river bank after drinking in the pub, and was possibly talking on his phone at the time.
Mr Hinchliff said: “He was spotted standing with his back to the water and took a few steps back, which caused him to fall in the water.
“Two people went to his aid with a piece of wood for him to grab so they could pull him out, but they had to release their grip because they themselves were in danger of being dragged into the water.
“They lost sight of him and he was later recovered by West Yorkshire Police’s under water search team, and his death was confirmed by paramedics at the scene.”
The inquest was adjourned pending the outcome of further enquiries and Mr Hinchliff said the results of a postmortem were not yet available.
Since Mr Doyle’s death, Pontefract and Knottingley neighbourhood policing team, has vowed to use money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to help fund two new lifebuoy stations at the site in Ferrybridge where the incident happened.
Police said due to constant theft and damage to the life rings, a decision was made in 2010 to stop replacing them.
The Golden Lion and Magnet pubs and Ferrybridge Community Centre have pledged to raise funds to help pay for the new equipment.
Sgt Dan Jones, of Pontefract and Knottingley NPT, said: “The new lifebuoys have been funded by residents and are the property of the community.
“The hope is that there will be a greater degree of respect for the equipment which will hopefully prevent them being damaged or stolen.”
Firefighters from Pontefract will explain lifesaving techniques to residents, including the landlords of the Golden Lion and the Magnet.
Police community support officers will also visit schools in the area to warn children of the dangers of water.
Sgt Jones added: “Hopefully a tragedy like this can be prevented in future.”