Drunken lagoon swimmer “paid high price”, coroner says

Horbury Lagoon
Horbury Lagoon

A drunken production worker who drowned in Horbury Lagoon after going swimming “paid a high price for an error of judgement”, a coroner said.

Artur Sevcov, a married father-of-one from Leeds, had been almost four times the drink-drive limit when he stripped naked and got into the water at the former quarry on the evening of Saturday, August 26 last year.

The 32-year-old had been on a camping trip with friends and family for the weekend.

His body was found by an underwater police rescue team at around 3pm next day, approximately five metres below the surface.

The inquest into his death was held at Wakefield Coroner’s Court this morning.

It was told how Mr Sevcov, who was originally from Lithuania but was living at Cottingley Crescent in Leeds, had been a fit and healthy man and a strong swimmer who drank only on special occasions.

Statements from those with Mr Sevcov on that fateful day were read out by senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin, who said he had been drinking whiskey and beer since early afternoon and had been in and out of the water, staying close to the bank.

At around 7.30pm he entered the water again for the last time and was last seen by a dog walker near the middle of the lake who said Mr Sevcov then just disappeared.

Toxicology tests showed that he had high levels of ethanol in his system, which the pathologist said was consistent with being “profoundly intoxicated”.

In recording a verdict of mis-adventure, Mr McLoughlin said: “This young man paid a high price for an error of judgement and in consequence a family has been left without a father and a husband.

“As the swimming season gets underway in the summer, all of those who hear about this tragedy should heed the risks.

“No-one should swim after drinking alcohol and not in open water where signs warn of the dangers.”

Mr Sevcov’s death is one of several at Horbury Lagoon since 1995.

Two teenagers died in separate incidents that year, and a person drowned in car in 2004.

A teenager from Lupset also died in 2007.

Today’s inquest heard from a Wakefield Council street scene manager, who confirmed there are seven danger signs around the lagoon, warning people not to swim, plus a number of life buoys.

Stolen buoys had only been replaced in the days leading up Mr Sevcov’s death, while a sign was left badly vandalised.

Mr McLoughlin added: “Those who vandalise safety warning signs should feel shame and one hopes they deserve sleepless nights by virtue of what they are doing.”