A billionaire friend of Prince Harry was three times the legal drink-drive limit when he was thrown from his powerful new speedboat and drowned, an inquest has heard.
Shipping and energy magnate Erik Henriksen, 58, who has a $17 million estate in the Cotswolds, was thrown from the $427,000 boat into the Caribbean near his Cayman Islands’ home.
The 1,000 horsepower boat made ‘hundreds’ of circles before it crashed into a mangrove swamp.
An inquest heard Henriksen, who was worth an estimated $27 billion, and his employee Warren Weiss were thrown from the craft as it span out of control.
Henriksen thrashed around in the water about 32 feet from the boat, as Weiss swam to save him.
But by the time Weiss had dragged his boss to shore, some two hours later, Henriksen had gone limp and stopped responding.
The inquest heard neither Henriksen nor Weiss were wearing life jackets when disaster struck on November 9, 2015.
A Cayman government pathologist reported that Henriksen had been driving the boat whilst almost three times over Cayman’s legal drink-drive limit.
It was heard that Henriksen, also a close friend of late F1 driver James Hunt, had recently returned to the islands from his $17 million mansion in Wotton-under-Edge, near Stroud, Glos.
The men had taken out the brand new speedboat, with Henriksen driving, and neither were wearing lifejackets.
They also were not equipped with a safety cut-out lanyard to kill the three, 350-horsepower Mercury outboards in the event of a crash.
GPS date from the boat showed it had made “hundreds and hundreds” of circles in the sea before crashing in to a mangrove swamp.
The Cayman Compass reported from Henriksen’s inquest: “[Weiss] swam over and talked to him to try to calm him down.
“Eventually he was able to place Mr. Henriksen’s head on his shoulder and tow him to shore.
“He was talking to him, but at some point Mr. Henriksen was not responding and Mr. Weiss felt his body go limp and heavy.
“He estimated it took him almost two hours to get to shore. He went for help, found a security guard and used that man’s phone to call 911.
“Mr. Henriksen was taken by ambulance to the Cayman Islands Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 12:57 am on November 10, 2015.”
Weiss told the inquest that just before the crash he was changing the fenders and docking lines and Henriksen was driving the boat.
His back was turned to Henriksen, then he felt the boat make a sudden sharp turn and he flew through the air.
The $450,000 vessel was found with the engines revving to the maximum and loud music blaring from the stereo.
The inquest in October 2017 heard that Henriksen had already suffered two broken ribs from a wrestling match with a friend, which may have impaired his ability to swim.
Government pathologist Shravana Jyoti concluded that the physical cause of death was drowning, based on findings that included seawater in the deceased’s lungs and froth in the airways.
He noted that Henriksen’s blood and alcohol level was .295 – almost three times the legal limit for driving a vehicle in Cayman.
He thought that alcohol level could have affected Henriksen’s ability to cope with what had happened.
Henriksen, who once hosted a shooting party for Prince Harry, was estimated to have been worth an estimated $2.7 billion.
He had put his 366 acre Alderley Farm stately home on the market with a price tag of at least $24 million. It is currently under offer after being advertised for $17 million.
He was a shipping and energy magnate with businesses listed on the Oslo stock exchange.
He chaired the board of Norwegian energy company Noreco and founded the Aqua Nirvana Foundation which provides clean and safe water in developing countries.
The coroner Eileen Nervik found that Henriksen’s death was due to misadventure.