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Cold water shock killed Imperial College student - Yen Zhen Anthony Soh wanted to "jump into the Serpentine"

Yen Zhen Anthony Soh

Published: 24 June 2011
by JOSH LOEB

A POPULAR student from Westminster told a friend he wanted to jump into the Serpentine after his exams finished.

The body of 18-year-old Yen Zhen Anthony Soh, known as Anthony, was discovered in the Hyde Park lake on April 6, more than a week after he went missing following a night out.

The Imperial College first-year mechanical engineering student lived in halls of residence in Sussex Gardens, Paddington.

He was last seen attending an “all-you-can-drink” evening at his student union’s Metric bar on March 22, but the inquest heard he had only consumed around three pints of beer.

His course mate Anthony Foon Lum Tsoi, who also lived in the Sussex Gardens halls, told the court that Mr Soh had been “rushing around” in the bar. 

The court heard that Mr Soh believed he suffered from bipolar disorder and possessed a supply of the mood-brightening drug Modafinil. Coroner’s officer Lynda Morris said Mr Soh’s mother had reported a previous incident where he had taken an overdose of caffeine tablets.

Mr Tsoi said that at about 11pm he had left the student union bar with Mr Soh and other friends. He said: “Yen ran into the street and towards the Albert Hall and ran up the steps of the Albert Hall. As we were walking back he ran past the quad and we had to stop him again.” 

He said he had asked Mr Soh whether he wanted to stay at a friend’s flat which was close to the campus but that Mr Soh had replied: “It’s fine, I will run home.” 

When Mr Soh did not appear for lectures the next day his friends alerted the police.

Mr Tsoi said: “As I was walking back through Hyde Park I remembered Yen had sort of mentioned that he wanted to jump or swim in the Serpentine when our exams finished. I took this as a celebratory idea.” 

Mr Soh’s body was discovered in the Serpentine by a boater on April 6.

Detective Sergeant Thomas Haines, from Westminster missing person’s unit, said he considered the death to be non-suspicious.

Dr John David van der Walt, who carried out a post-mortem examination, said no water had been found in Mr Soh’s lungs.

He said: “I would call this death by immersion which is when someone falls into water and dies almost instantly.”

Westminster coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox said: “I record a death of immersion, which is where the shock of the cold causes muscles to seize and causes an almost instantaneous death. Whether he slipped into the Serpentine or deliberately jumped in and suffered cold water shock, I am satisfied that Mr Soh died as a result of an accident. This is no doubt an absolutely tragic loss of a young man on the brink of his life.”

Verdict: accidental death.

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