THE mother of a teenager who drowned in York’s River Foss said she still believed someone else may have been involved in his death – as a coroner concluded that it was accidental.
Coroner Jonathan Leach said an investigation by police had found no evidence of third party involvement or suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Sonny Ferry, 19, of Rutland, at the end of a night out in York city centre in April 2019.
He said Sonny had consumed alcohol during the night and turned the wrong way out of a nightclub to go back to his bed and breakfast in Bootham, heading instead for Friars Walk and the riverside.
The inquest heard that a witness had seen Sonny asleep on the river bank and he could have woken, disorientated in the dark, and rolled into the river.
However, while Sonny’s mother Kate told the inquest that she would like to believe he had died through an accident, she said: “I am not convinced there wasn’t any third party involvement.”
She said that according to one statement, a nearby resident had been woken by a shout, and had then heard a splash, followed by someone crying out “help mate” for about 15 seconds, which implied someone else had been at the scene.
She said afterwards that had police conducted more extensive inquiries shortly after he died – for example by conducting house-to-house inquiries – more evidence could have emerged about the reasons why he had gone into the river.
A witness wept as he told how Sonny had come with him and a colleague to work as a labourer on a project at a hotel in York, worked until 9pm, went back to the B&B, showered and changed, and then headed into the centre for food and drink.
Luke Lockwood said they went to several bars including the Stone Roses before heading to Kuda nightclub in the early hours, where Sonny had been excited and buying some girls some drinks.
Sonny had later disappeared from sight in the club but he had not been too worried, thinking he had gone back to the B&B alone or possibly gone off with a girl.
It was only the next day after Sonny had failed to turn up to work that he began panicking and went to the police station to report him missing.
Rana Alzahany, who lived near the Blue Bridge, said in a statement read out to the inquest that she was woken by someone shouting and a splash in the river, and by cries for help in a “gargling” voice for about 15 seconds, and she rang police.
Police and fire officers told how extensive searches were conducted in the water for Sonny but to no avail, and his body was eventually found the following day nearby.
Mrs Ferry paid tribute after the inquest to a “hilarious, lovely son, who was fearless but quite naive”, who had never been to York before.
She also told how she, along with her husband Steve, and Sonny’s siblings Daisy, Grace and George, had thrown herself into fundraising for York Rescue Boat, to channel her grief into “positive action”.
The appeal has raised more than £30,000 so far.