A DROWNING victim had a high blood alcohol reading when he drowned in the Murray River near Yarrawonga last year.
The circumstances of Jovica Djukic’s death have been outlined by Albury coroner Tony Murray when dispensing with holding an inquest.
It comes a week after the Royal Life Saving Society said the Murray is the No.1 spot for inland drownings in Australia, with alcohol a key contributing factor.
Mr Djukic, 44, a Serbian migrant from Sydney, died on December 21 and a post mortem blood sample gave a reading of 0.253.
“This was regretfully, but very clearly, an accidental death,” Mr Murray said in his finding.
“It is, however, another powerful and strong message to again send to the community that the apparently placid and calm waters of the Murray River are in reality a potentially fatal experience, even for strong swimmers.
“Caution should be exercised when swimming in it especially without flotation devices and when unaccompanied.”
Mr Djukic was a carpenter in Sydney and lived with his wife Davina and children.
He was described as a strong swimmer.
He arrived in Yarrawonga with his family about 12.30pm to 1pm on December 21, met another couple and they made their way to Bruce’s Bend to set up a camp site.
Mr Djukic had two stubbies of beer when he arrived at the site.
He was asked to help erect a tent, but decided to go swimming because it was hot.
He entered the water about 15 metres from the camp and reached the river along a gully.
The camp site was on a high bank which made it difficult for people to see into the river.
A short time later another man camping at the site walked to the river to set a fishing rod and saw Mr Djukic’s head as he moved downstream.
He was about 100 metres from the bank moving with the current, his head upright.
His arms were not breaking the water with any type of swimming stroke.
It was about 5pm that the other man became concerned and he drove along bush tracks near the river for 2½ kilometres in a bid to find Mr Djukic.
A short time later the matter was reported to Yarrawonga police, who were helped by officers from Mulwala.
The State Emergency Service, Vounteer Rescue Association and police began a search, but it was suspended at 2am.
Mr Djukic’s body was found about 8.55am on December 23 about 2½ kilometres downstream from where he was last seen.