A 52-year-old British man died half a year ago after he climbed a tree at a park and fell, an inquest was told.
Stephen Hitchen, who lived in the northern English town of Wigan in Greater Manchester, visited Haigh Woodland Park last Aug. 14 to climb a tree, local outlet the Wigan Today reported.
“He was basically an adventurer. For his age… he liked climbing trees and messing about. He was quite healthy for his age and liked doing stuff like that,” the father-of-five’s nephew, Andrew Wooton, told Bolton Coroner’s Court Wednesday.
Hitchen climbed a tree that August day, stopping part-way to chat with Wooton and another nephew while sitting down.
“Eventually, I said that’s enough now, it’s a bit high, it’s a bit stupid, and he should turn round,” Wooton recalled.
Wooton was chatting with two cyclists passing by at the time when he heard branches cracking and saw his uncle falling to the floor, Manchester Evening News reported.
Hitchen’s nephews tried to resuscitate him and called for an ambulance, but he died, the inquest heard.
The grandfather’s death was attributed to “multiple injuries,” according to pathologist Naveen Sharma, and evidence of rib fractures, internal bleeding and damage to organs was found.
Meanwhile, a toxicology report determined that Hitchen had cannabis in his system and a blood alcohol level of 220 milligrams.
The legal alcohol limit in England for driving is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, according to London’s Metropolitan Police Service.
Hitchen and his nephews reportedly went to a pub near Haigh Woodland Park before entering the area, but Wooton insisted his uncle did not seem drunk. He had also taken cannabis an hour before the incident.
“He was walking straight and that… If he was that drunk, he would not have been able to get up the tree. It didn’t seem like he was staggering or anything like that,” Wooton told the court.
Greater Manchester West Assistant Coroner Stephen Teasdale, who described Hitchens as an “adventurous spirit,” concluded that he died from a “misadventure.”
“There are a number of points when he’s climbing the tree that he makes decisions to continue. Unfortunately, those decisions may have been affected by drink, may have been affected by cannabis,” he said.