A DISTRAUGHT family today spoke of their agony after their 20-year-old son was found dead after a party with friends.
Gary Dowson was discovered by pals after a late-night drinking session.
Friends raised the alarm and paramedics rushed to the scene – but they were unable to revive him.
Five people were subsequently arrested as police probed the “unexplained” death.
A post mortem examination was carried out – but Gary’s family are still waiting the result of tests and his death remains a mystery.
Gary’s mum, Tracy, 42, is still too distraught to speak about his death.
His brother Ryan, 19, said: “We are just in shock. He was a fit and healthy lad. We are all struggling to come to terms with this..”
Motorbike fanatic Gary had spent Saturday night at a friend’s in Gritten Square, on Hartlepool’s Central Estate, when the tragedy happened.
Friends woke to discover his lifeless body and dialled 999.
Ryan was contacted by a friend of Gary who was with him at the house around 8.45am on Sunday, telling him Gary was “in a bad way” and asking him “what should we do?”
Ryan told the friend to call for an ambulance.
But sadly, he received another phone call 15 minutes later, with the friend telling him “I think he’s gone”.
Ryan rushed to the scene with his mum and sister Jodie Dowson, 22, and girlfriend Lauren London, but police and paramedics would not let them inside.
They were told to go home and that the police would contact them later.
Ryan said: “I only saw him on Thursday, he was right as rain, we had a couple of drinks together.”
He added: “He had just gone to a friend’s house for a drink, I don’t think he had been there before.
“As soon as we drove in the street, my mum just knew something was wrong and started crying.
“We are just in shock, he was a fit and healthy lad.”
Five people were arrested and bailed in connection with the incident, but Gary’s family say they are sure there has been no foul play.
The motorbike fanatic’s teenage years had been troubled, and he had been made subject of a two-year Anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) in 2009 and in the past two years appeared in court for theft and driving offences. But his family insist the former Grange Primary and Manor College pupil, who lived with his mum, off Challoner Road, was starting to settle down and turn his life around.
Gary’s stepdad, Gareth Dobie, 33, from the Owton Manor area, who had brought him up from being six, said Gary had rang him around 1am on the morning he died, asking him to join the friends for a drink, but he declined.
He added: “We just feel emotional, we are a big family and are just holding all together, trying to be strong.
“He was a well-loved member of the family and was popular, with lots of friends.”
Gary also leaves behind brothers and sisters Laurie, 15, Casey, 14, 13-year-old twins Liam and Abbey, and nine-year-old twins Ellie and Carly Dobie as well as grandparents Brenda and Dave Dowson.
The family thanked well-wishers for sympathy cards, kinds words and messages of support on Facebook.
The funeral will take place next Friday at Stranton Crematorium at 12pm, followed by a wake at Owton Manor Social Club, in Wynyard Road.