Norman Henry
06-24-04, Drown, Drinking

FAIRBANKS - Man apparently drowned in gravel pit after drinking beer, diving in

A man drowned in a gravel pit after drinking with friends and deciding to go swimming, witnesses said.

Robert Bush, one of Norman Henry's companions, said he told Henry to wade into the water to wash his feet on Thursday.

"I told him, 'Jump in the water. Your feet stink,' " Bush said. "He dove in and just never came up."

Fairbanks firefighters dragging the pit found Henry's body about an hour and a half later.

Fairbanks police detective Randy Coffey said the man died of apparent drowning, but an investigation is under way to confirm that no foul play was involved.

Bush met Henry on Thursday afternoon while drinking 40-ounce bottles of beer behind Fred Meyer, Bush said.

A friend gave Bush $60, and he decided to buy some beer and go swimming, he said. The group met at the gravel pit, which is on private property.

A woman, Nancy Olsen, waded into the pit to wash her hair, she said.

"(Henry) came up right behind me and dove in," she said. "He never came back up."

Henry's body was found that evening when his jeans were snagged on a hook about 50 yards from where he was last seen. He was shirtless and shoeless as he was lifted into one of the boats. Paramedics carried the body to an ambulance.

-- The Associated Press