An Albury man, who had swum for Hertfordshire, drowned in a reservoir near Bishop’s Stortford on one of the hottest days of last year.
An inquest was told Lewis Saggers, 24, had taken ketamine and cocaine and drunk alcohol when he went into the water near Bishop’s Stortford.
The coroner’s court at County Hall in Hertford heard that the window cleaner was being treated for depression, had taken overdoses in the past and made an attempt to take his life.
But in a narrative conclusion, the assistant coroner for Hertfordshire Jonathan Stevens said he could not find that he committed suicide.
He said that Lewis, from Albury, had been looking forward to moving into a flat in Saffron Walden with his girlfriend Kady Brown and was going to go on holiday with her to Greece.
The inquest heard Lewis had gone to the Hadham Hall Reservoir during the afternoon of Tuesday July 19 with his boss, Will Nobbs.
Mr Nobbs said there were about 50 people swimming. He said they both went into the water and he saw Lewis get out after about five minutes.
He told the hearing Lewis disappeared and he assumed he had gone off with friends. When he did not return he collected Lewis’s phone, wallet and shoes and went home, where he contacted Lewis’ girlfriend Kady.
DC Clare Halfpenny said a search was made around the lake that evening and the police helicopter was sent up to look for Lewis.
The following day firefighters used a 12ft pole to search the floor of the lake, but nothing was found. A media appeal was launched and the police carried out house-to-house inquiries.
On Thursday July 21, Nottinghamshire divers using a sonar device located a body-shaped image in the 20ft deep water on the opposite side of the lake. Lewis’ body was recovered at 8.30pm. He was wearing swim shorts and sunglasses.
Kady Brown, who had been seeing Lewis since Christmas 2021, said he had been living with her and her parents but had to move out when they were concerned about his drug use. He was living in a tent and in a work van.
In a statement, paraphrased by the coroner, she said she thought he was addicted to ketamine and occasionally used cocaine. She said he had swum for the county and had helped her with her swimming.
In March 2022, she said he had tried to hang himself, but she had stopped him. She said it was more of a cry for help than a suicide attempt.
On the day he drowned, she said: “I had a phone call with him. He seemed happy and was really excited about moving in.
“He said he loved me and couldn’t wait to move in with me. He seemed really excited,” she told the coroner.
Pathologist Dr Preethi Gopinath said the cause of death was immersion in water caused by alcohol intoxication. Cocaine and ketamine found in his body indirectly contributed to his death.
Lewis’ mother Tracey Saggers described her son as a “happy young man who instantly lit up a room”. She said he could talk to anyone and was loved by so many people.
The coroner said he could not be satisfied he intended to take his own life.
He said: “It seems he went into the water of his own free will. When he went into the water he did so simply to swim. He was lifted by news of the flat and had a holiday to look forward to.
“He had drunk quite a lot of alcohol and that impaired him, particularly in the cold waters.
“The most likely sequence of events is that he did just go for a swim, but, under the influence of alcohol and, indirectly, drugs, it caused him to get into trouble and that resulted in him drowning.”