Drugs and alcohol factor in boat death

Published: Monday, 09 November 2009

AT THE inquest into the death of boater Marie-Anne Chavasse, it was told that a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol prevented her being able to escape her boat when it caught fire.

The inquest heard that the drugs and alcohol could have led to Marie-Anne waking too late to escape her narrowboat Cobra when it caught fire in May at Honey Street on the Kennet & Avon Canal, Alan Tilbury reports.

She was found dead in the burnt out wreckage of the boat after fire fighters forced an entry on the 22nd May this year.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

She had been taking medication for depression, arthritis and pleurisy had also consumed alcohol in the hours leading up to her death, a post mortem examination revealed, with the pathologist Dr Sharon Kahn, giving the cause of death as carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation consistent with being in a domestic fire.

The boat was heated by a stove, burning wood and coal, with neighbouring boatyard owner George Gibson, revealing that he had to warn Marie-Anne about flames and sparks issuing from her chimney on a previous occasion.

DC Dave Hunt told the inquest that her body was found half way from her sleeping quarters at one end of the boat, which only had a single  exit at the far end.