Man, 22, drowned at popular country park

Kristers Bednarskis, who drowned in a lake at Bawsey Pits, near KIng's Lynn Picture: Ilja Jevtusenk

Kristers Bednarskis, who drowned in a lake at Bawsey Country Park, near King's Lynn - Credit: Ilja Jevtusenko

A popular 22-year-old drowned in a lake at a country park, an inquest has heard.

Emergency services launched a major search operation after a swimmer got into difficulty at Bawsey Country Park, near King's Lynn, on August 8 last year.

Firefighters later recovered the body of Kristers Bednarskis, from Peterborough, from the water.

A search and rescue operation was launched at Bawsey Country Park, also known as Bawsey Pits, near King's Lynn.

Emergency services at Bawsey Country Park. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

Area coroner Yvonne Blake opened an inquest into his death at Norfolk Coroner's Court on Monday, January 4, where she told the court Mr Bednarskis died as a result of drowning.

The amateur powerlifter, who was born in Latvia, celebrated his 22nd birthday two days before he drowned. 

Mr Bednarskis is the third man to lose his life swimming at Bawsey in less than a decade.

Kristers Bednarskis (second from right) with friends at a barbecue Picture; Ilja Jevtusenko

Kristers Bednarskis (second from right) with friends at a barbecue Picture; Ilja Jevtusenko - Credit: Archant

Lakes at the country park are flooded former quarries, where depths can plunge to 60ft.

A 41-year-old man from King’s Lynn and a 16-year-old boy from London drowned on the same day in July 2013.

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Signs at the beauty spot warn people not to swim or paddle. But sunseekers ignore them as temperatures rise and the park becomes a popular alternative to the coast.

The rescue team at Bawsey Country Park. Photo: Ian Burt Photography

The rescue team at Bawsey Country Park. Photo: Ian Burt Photography - Credit: Archant

Two days after Mr Bednarskis died, the warden at Bawsey had to tell families to get out of the water.

Safety signage was increased after businessman Stephen Bacon took over to former gravel workings in 2018, pledging to turn them into a family-friendly country park.

In a statement on social media the owners and staff of the park offered their condolences to Kris’ family and friends.

The search for Kristers Bednarskis at Bawsey Pits Country Park near King’s Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt P

The search for Kristers Bednarskis at Bawsey Pits Country Park near King’s Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt Photography - Credit: Ian Burt Photography/GoFundMe

They said: “The loss of this young man’s life is a tragedy which we hope with all our hearts will never be repeated.

“We remain committed to improving the park and promoting its safe usage so that it can remain a beautiful natural site for local people to use safely and enjoy for many years to come, but we need our visitors to help us.

“We reiterate our plea for visitors to abide by the park rules and please stay out of the water so that no future tragedies occur.”

The search for Kristers Bednarskis at Bawsey Pits Country Park near King’s Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt P

The search for Kristers Bednarskis at Bawsey Pits Country Park near King’s Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt Photography - Credit: Ian Burt Photography/GoFundMe

Close friend Ilja Jevtusenko, who was there at the time of his death, launched a crowdfunding page in a bid to cover his funeral costs, with hundreds of generous donors providing more than £6,450.

The inquest has been adjourned until May 18.

A search is under way at Bawsey Country Park after a man got into difficulty in the water. Photo: Ia

A search is under way at Bawsey Country Park after a man got into difficulty in the water. Photo: Ian Burt Photography - Credit: Archant

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