Exeter man's birthday bridge fall death 'accidental'

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A man fell to his death from a bridge after getting drunk while celebrating his 21st birthday , an inquest has heard.

Jamie Bruce, of Lynwood Avenue, St Thomas, Exeter, had also been drinking lager, cider and shots during a night out in the city.

He climbed the railings of a bridge over the inner Exeter bypass when he fell on 20 June 2009.

Exeter Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Mr Bruce died in hospital five days after suffering three neck fractures, kidney damage, a ruptured spleen, a broken pelvis and seven broken ribs in the fall.

'Mixed them up'

His younger brother Darren, now aged 20, said they had gone to several bars in Exeter before ending up at the EX4 club in Fore Street, near the bridge.

He said their route to and from home included a short cut over Exe Bridges which involved vaulting a similar set of railings to those on the bridge.

He said he believed his brother had "mixed them up".

"We moved around a number of bars and ended up in a strip club where Jamie had quite a few pints of cider as well as champagne and shots," he told the inquest.

"He was drunk but I've seen him worse."

He said his brother looked at him from the bridge before putting his leg over the railings and falling on to the road below.

Balcony fall

After the coroner's verdict Mr Bruce's parents, James Bruce and Karen Herbert, both aged 43, warned young people to drink responsibly.

"As we are all now painfully aware, excessive drinking carries with it excessive risk," they said.

Mr Bruce said his son had drunk "a couple of pints" earlier in the day when the family went for a pub lunch.

He returned home before going out again at 2100 BST to meet his friends.

"Normally James did not drink much but his friends told me that because it was his birthday he had a lot to drink during the evening, lager, champagne and shots and was well under the influence," Mr Bruce said.

"He had just gone out to celebrate and have a good time but it all ended in tragedy."

The inquest was told Mr Bruce had fallen from a second-floor balcony three years previously after celebrating his 18th birthday.

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