Assistant Gloucestershire Coroner Caroline Saunders said she had no choice but to record an open conclusion on his death because it was not clear how he came to be in the river.
The inquest was told Zion lived in a tent near the river at Westgate Bridge.
It is thought he went into the river at 12.30am on the morning of August 13 because a witness reported hearing a man calling for help at that time.
Zion’s Huskie dog was seen soon afterwards in a “distressed state” barking under the bridge.
The dog, named Ash, was found later that day alone in Wellington Street.
The dog walker, Peter Lock, said he entered a field near Elmore Lane on August 18 his dog pulled him towards the river.
Arriving at the river, he said, he looked down and saw the body of what he believed at the time to be man on the bank.
(Image: Kevin Fern Photography Ltd)
The post mortem did not find any pathological evidence to explain Zion’s death, the coroner was told.
The pathologist had to rely on circumstantial evidence to give the cause of death as drowning.
Concluding the inquest, Mrs Saunders said the post mortem did not provide much information to move them forward as to exactly how Zion died.
She noted that Zion’s GP report said he had suffered mental health problems, anxiety and paranoid thoughts.
She also noted he was homeless, living in a tent.
Tributes to Zion
Many people paid tribute tribute to Zion, also known by the surname Charlamow, including Severn Area Rescue Association which helped in the search for him.
Here are just some of the dozens of tributes that were left last year in loving memory of Zion on Gloucestershire police and Gloucestershire Live’s Facebook pages.
‘Desperately sad news’
One woman passed on her love to Zion’s mother and sister, saying: “This is desperately sad news. And so difficult to process that lovely Zion won’t shine his light anymore.”
Another woman said: “My family will never forget you or stop loving your memory you truly were a remarkable young man and it was a great pleasure and honour to have known you.”
(Image: Kevin Fern Photography Ltd)
While another person who knew him said: “Zion was a free spirit and chose to live outside. So heartbreaking for his family and my heart goes out to them.”
‘Proud to have been able to call him a friend’
While this woman added: “No words could even begin to cover it, all my love to Zion’s family and friends. I’m proud to have been able to call him a friend of mine such an amazing young man xxxxx”
Another person to have known Zion said: “I went to Prince’s Trust with Zion, he was a genuinely great lad and was nice to everyone. So saddened at this outcome.. he was such a young bright light in people’s lives.”
“An amazing person’
Other comments included “you will be missed by so many you were such an amazing person had so many good times with you” and “we must as a nation do more for the homeless we can not in this day and age let this go on” and “What sad news. Bless his family, friends and the people who searched for him.”
Zion lived in a tent with his Japanese Akita dog which turned up on its own at a friend of Zion’s house.
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“The circumstantial evidence shows he died from drowning but the circumstances on how he came to be in the river are unknown,” she said.
“There is insufficient evidence to determine exactly how or why he died and therefore I am recording an open conclusion.”
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