Man drowned after getting ‘snagged’ on car dumped in River Shannon

Christopher Leo’s inquest hears area where he went swimming popular with joyriders

A man drowned after he became "snagged" on a submerged car in the River Shannon after he went in for a swim, gardaí told an inquest on Tuesday.

Christopher 'Kippy' Leo (44), from Cliona Park, Moyross, got into difficulty while swimming at Brown's Quay in Limerick on June 30th last, Limerick Coroner's Court heard.

"It is in an area known for joyriding. The car may have been driven in or pushed in," Garda Alan Dowling told the inquest.

Eric Woodland, a friend of the deceased, told the hearing that he and Mr Leohad gone for a walk and stopped for a rest near the riverbank.


"We were sitting down enjoying the sun. It was a roasting hot day. Ann Halvey and her two daughters were paddling in the river and Christopher said to me he was going to 'show-off' for the kids," Mr Woodland told gardaí.

“He went in and he went down...suddenly. He was gone under for about a minute and a half, I got worried, I asked Ann to ring the rescue crowd.”

Mr Woodland said Mr Leo "had one or two drinks that day, but he wasn't drunk".

Limerick City and County Fire and Rescue Service was dispatched to the scene and quickly located Mr Leo's body underwater. Garda Dowling said he was found "snagged under water in a car".

‘Only messing’

Ms Halvey stated in a deposition that Mr Leo was initially “popping up and down” in the water.

She said she thought he was “only messing” when he failed to resurface. She rang the emergency services and efforts to resuscitate Mr Leo were unsussessful.

John Leo told the inquest he identified his brother's body at University Hospital Limerick.

Dr Gabor Laskai, a pathologist at the hospital UHL, said the man's death was caused by "asphyxiation due to drowning". He said toxicology tests found "low levels" of Xanax and alcohol in Mr Leo's system.

He noted the postmortem found a “concurrent use of alcohol, anti-depressant; anti-epileptic; anti-histamines medications” which combined together would have resulted in “an increased risk of accident” as well as a possible “loss of coordination”.

Limerick Coroner Dr John McNamara remarked: “It strikes me as very unusual there was a car in (the river), but that is what appears to have snagged Christopher under the water.”

Recording a verdict of “misadventure”, Dr McNamara noted that low levels of alcohol and medicines may have effected Mr Leo’s “co-ordination and ability to react”.