A LATVIAN man, who drowned in the Cleddau estuary at Neyland shortly after entering the water, had an unknown serious heart condition which likely contributed to his death, an inquest heard.

Latvian-born Juris Apalko, 25 of 39 Lelejas, Talsi drowned at Neyland on July 29, sparking a multi-agency search which lasted days.

An inquest held last Thursday, November 15, heard Mr Apalko was unaware of his very serious heart condition.

His body was discovered two days later by Milford Haven mum Tracey Smith.

At the November 15 inquest, Coroner’s Officer Jeremy Davies said Mr Apalko had recently moved to Pembrokeshire, living at Woodbine Farm, Neyland.

He told Mr Apalko’s brother, Maris, who had travelled from Germany to the Milford Haven inquest, that, at 2pm on July 29, Mr Apalko had bought drink at Neyland’s Co-op store with friends Karina Soldecienkova and Ratis Prusans.

The three had sat on a bench overlooking the Cleddau, close to Neyland Yacht Club, Mr Apalko drinking two or three bottles of Carlsberg lager.

The inquest heard about an hour-and-a-half later Mr Apalko decided to go for a swim.

He was seen staggering down a ramp to the water, holding the railings.

He slumped to the floor before stripping to his underpants, before jumping feet-first in to the water, ending up chest-deep some 10 metres from the shore.

Mr Apalko got in to difficulty soon after and started sinking.

Karina Soldecienkova, who had drunk half a bottle of Lambrini perry wine, jumped in to save him, while Mr Prusans, who could not swim, ran for help.

A statement from Karina was read out: “I reached my friend, I grabbed him around his neck and held him above the water, so he could breathe; I shouted to the shore for help.

“I couldn’t take him to shore because I lost my strength; there were no other people for help.”

Mr Prusans stated: “When I returned, he was not there anymore, if Karina had held on she would’ve drowned. I jumped in a small boat and went to Karina.”

A multi-agency search failed to find Mr Apalko.

His body was found by Miss Smith two days later near the yacht club slipway.

She alerted the police, and Mr Apalko was officially declared to have passed away at 6.50pm that evening.

Police stated there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Mr Apalko’s death.

A post-mortem report by Dr Daniel Howser stated Mr Apalko, unbeknownst to him, suffered from a very serious hereditary heart condition coronary atheroma, leading to a severe narrowing of the arteries.

The report said the combination of Mr Apalko’s heart condition and shock from jumping in to cold water were likely to have led to him drowning.

Reaching a conclusion of a death by misadventure, HM Coroner for Pembrokeshire Mark Layton said: “Juris Apalko had a serious heart condition, he was unaware of the fact.

“He had been drinking alcohol and was unsteady on his feet, it seems the amount of alcohol affected his balance. He has entered the water at Neyland and he has got in to difficulty.

“His heart condition has been a factor in this, that has been part of the cause.”

He told Mr Apalko’s brother: “By jumping in to the water, what your brother has done has taken a turn that unexpectedly led to his death.”