THE family of a retired woodcutter – who died in a river – has thanked the emergency services who tried to resuscitate him, an inquest heard.

A coroner ruled Timothy Stephenson of Hamsterley, in County Durham, died an accidental death caused by immersion in water, following a trip to the banks of the River Wear to find pea sticks for his greenhouse.

The 70-year-old’s body was found submerged in the river by a member of the public at about 12.40pm on Sunday, March 24.

An inquest into his death, which was held at Crook Coroner’s Court, heard police officers was called to the incident and tried to resuscitate him before paramedics arrived on scene – but were unsuccessful.

A family spokesperson said: “Mrs Brenda Stephenson and daughters Dawn and Deborah would like to thank the two ladies who found Tim.

"They would also like to thank the police and other emergency services, who tried so hard to save Tim’s life.”