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Inquest hears how an ex-Nottingham Forest player drowned after leaping off boat

An inquest hears how an ex-Nottingham Forest player sadly drowned after leaping off a boat out in South Carolina last summer.

Derrick Otim lost his life aged 24 after he couldn’t swim in a lake after his friend encouraged him to jump in the water, it’s been revealed.

One statement heard at the inquest stated one of Mr Otim’s friends had encouraged him to jump on ‘1, 2, 3’ – with the promising footballer going straight off the boat and into the water.

The location in which the group were, has previously been branded as the ‘most deadly body of water’ in South Carolina by a 2018 report, which said 32 people had lost their lives there within 25 years.

The man-made body of water was built more than 50 years ago, and is a popular place for boating, skiing and swimming, yet clearly a very dangerous spot for humans.

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The group had stopped in a cove and jumped off the boat to use the toilet after drinking – but none were aware that Mr Otim couldn’t swim.

Tributes poured in on social for the Championship club’s former academy graduate – who died at the scene despite the best efforts of paramedics.

Nottingamshire Coroners Court heard Mr Otim had been sitting with friends at the front of a boat in the South Carolina cove on the 3rd of July 2020.

When they all rose up from the water after jumping in together, they ‘panicked’ and ‘saw bubbles’ while Otim did not reappear.

The driver of the boat told the inquest that the group had earlier been at her parents’ home and everyone had two to three beers.

They had been boating around for a few hours before she pulled into the cove.

She said she told Otim to hold onto the side of the boat and that everyone began screaming for help when they realised what was playing out in front of their own eyes.

A firefighter dressed in scuba gear later found Otim in 23ft of water at the bottom of the lake and medics tried advance lifesaving treatment.

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Otim, who left Forest in 2015, was pronounced dead at the scene in Marina Circle, South Carolina.

Gordon Clow, assistant coroner for Nottinghamshire, explained that the 24 year old was unable to swim and went into the water almost immediately.

Mr Clow said: ‘He was pronounced deceased, having died from drowning.’

The coroner passed on his sincere condolences to Otim’s friends and family.

Speaking in March, Derrick’s mother Joy Otim described her son as ‘so loving and very intelligent’.

He had lived with his mum in St Ann’s, Nottingham, before going to the USA on a scholarship for four years at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

He was a key part of Xavier’s football team for whom he played 70 matches, scored seven goals and also picked up 10 assists.

Otim’s brother, Elvis, said: ‘One month before he passed away, he was making decisions in terms of where he was going to go.

‘He was going to train with the New Mexico team last year.

‘He was making a decision whether he was going to stay in America or come back to England.’

Otim’s former team-mate Matty Cash posted on his Twitter account, saying he “always brought a smile to everyone’s face”.

Cash tweeted: “RIP del , can’t believe I’m writing this , Such a top lad who always brought a smile to everyone’s face when around him , RIP”.

Before an inquest hears how an ex-Nottingham Forest player drowned after leaping off boat, the tributes poured in…

@MalachiLM: Derrick was one of the humblest, hard working and clean hearted young brothers around! Had a big future ahead of you man, Love Forever Homey 🖤💔⚽👑 Rest In Peace #Derrickotim 🙏🏽

@SiGreg39: Still can’t believe it mate! So very sad 😔

@markyburt: A young life lost such a shame

@Gaz4ever: R.I.P sad news

@J_Thorneyy: Wow, RIP Derrick Otim, one of the 1st to welcome me to Nottingham & show me around the club & city. Genuine good guy, thoughts with his family💫💔#NFFC

@LVK226: RIP. Thought go out to Forest fans at this time

@davehibbert4: Very sad rest in peace

@Isaac_Currie: Devastating news. You inspired so many growing up and I’m proud to have been your friend and teammate. Will hold the memories close to me for life. Had such a bright future in and out the game and you could never meet a nicer person!! Rest in peace brother #DerrickOtim

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