Wednesday 26 November 2014

St Jude’s Day storm: Talented schoolgirl (17) crushed as she slept in mobile home

Tom Pugh

Published 28/10/2013 | 17:48

Bethany Freeman (17) died after a huge tree toppled on to a caravan she was sleeping in as hurricane-force winds buffeted Britain
Bethany Freeman (17) died after a huge tree toppled on to a caravan she was sleeping in as hurricane-force winds buffeted Britain

A gifted schoolgirl with "everything to look forward to" was killed when a huge tree toppled on to her mobile home as she slept in a fierce storm.

Bethany Freeman, nicknamed Gia, was crushed as the 30ft tree fell down amid high winds in Lydens Lane, Hever, near Edenbridge, Kent, at 7.18am.

Neighbours told how some came forward with chainsaws to try to help free the trapped 17-year-old talented sports fan but she was declared dead.

Bethany and her family were living in the mobile homes while renovation work was taking place at their home, according to local people.

As news of her death swept the rural community, her driving instructor Neil Chapman turned up outside her home unaware she had been killed.

A visibly shocked Mr Chapman told reporters as he arrived to pick her up: "I was teaching Bethany to drive. I'd just arrived not realising all this had happened.

People watch as waves crash against the harbour wall at Porthcawl in south Wales October 28, 2013. Britain's strongest storm in a decade battered southern regions on Monday, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, cutting power lines and disrupting the travel plans of millions of commuters. Winds of up to 99 miles per hour (160 km per hour) lashed southern England and Wales in the early hours of Monday, shutting down rail services in some areas during rush hour. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden (BRITAIN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY DISASTER)
People watch as waves crash against the harbour wall at Porthcawl in south Wales October 28, 2013. Britain's strongest storm in a decade battered southern regions on Monday, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, cutting power lines and disrupting the travel plans of millions of commuters. Winds of up to 99 miles per hour (160 km per hour) lashed southern England and Wales in the early hours of Monday, shutting down rail services in some areas during rush hour. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden (BRITAIN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY DISASTER)
A general view of the scene in Hever, Kent, where a 17-year-old girl was killed when a tree blew on to the caravan where she was sleeping. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 28, 2013. See PA story WEATHER Storm. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
People take photographs after a crane collapsed on the roof of the Cabinet Office, central London, as more than 40,000 homes are without power and commuters are facing severe travel disruption after the worst storm in years lashed the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 28, 2013. See PA story WEATHER Storm. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Workmen view the damage after a crane collapsed on the roof of the Cabinet Office, central London, as more than 40,000 homes are without power and commuters are facing severe travel disruption after the worst storm in years lashed the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 28, 2013. See PA story WEATHER Storm. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
A woman is helped over a fallen tree lying across the road in Shepherd's Hill, north London due to the storm affecting parts of the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 28, 2013. See PA story WEATHER Storm. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
A cyclist climbs over a fallen tree lying across the road in Shepherd's Hill, north London due to the storm affecting parts of the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 28, 2013. See PA story WEATHER Storm. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
A fallen tree lying across the road in Shepherd's Hill, north London due to the storm affecting parts of the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 28, 2013. See PA story WEATHER Storm. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Passers-by climb over a fallen tree lying across the road in Shepherd's Hill, north London due to the storm affecting parts of the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 28, 2013. See PA story WEATHER Storm. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Large waves, produced by storm force winds, break on the shore on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Large waves, produced by storm force winds, break on the shore on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Ferries wait beyond the harbour wall as large waves, produced by storm force winds, break on the shore on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
PORTHLEVEN, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Large waves, produced by storm force winds break along the coast at Porthleven on October 28, 2013 in Cornwall, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
PORTHLEVEN, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Large waves, produced by storm force winds, break along the coast at Porthleven on October 28, 2013 in Cornwall, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
PORTHLEVEN, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: A member of the public watches large waves, produced by storm force winds break along the coast at Porthleven on October 28, 2013 in Cornwall, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
PORTHLEVEN, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Large waves, produced by storm force winds, break along the coast at Porthleven on October 28, 2013 in Cornwall, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
PORTHLEVEN, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: A member of the public watches large waves, produced by storm force winds break along the coast at Porthleven on October 28, 2013 in Cornwall, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
PORTHLEVEN, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Large waves, produced by storm force winds break along the coast at Porthleven on October 28, 2013 in Cornwall, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Large waves, produced by storm force winds, break on the shore on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Members of the public watch as large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Members of the public watch as large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Members of the public watch as large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Members of the public watch as large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Members of the public watch as large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: A child is blown over as large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: A child is blown over as large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
TROON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Members of the public walk along the Troon South beach on October 28, 2013 in Troon, Scotland. Scotland is set to miss the effects of the storm which is hitting the south of Britain, with gusts of 80mph winds causing travel disruption. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Members of the public watch as large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Members of the public watch as large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Large waves produced by storm force winds break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Large waves produced by storm force winds break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
People watch as waves crash against the harbour wall at Porthcawl in south Wales October 28, 2013. Britain's strongest storm in a decade battered southern regions on Monday, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, cutting power lines and disrupting the travel plans of millions of commuters. Winds of up to 99 miles per hour (160 km per hour) lashed southern England and Wales in the early hours of Monday, shutting down rail services in some areas during rush hour. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden (BRITAIN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY DISASTER)
A collapsed tree lies across a road in Hounslow, west London October 28, 2013. Britain's strongest storm in a decade battered southern regions on Monday, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, cutting power lines and disrupting the travel plans of millions of commuters. Winds of up to 99 miles per hour (160 km per hour) lashed southern England and Wales in the early hours of Monday, shutting down rail services in some areas during rush hour. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)
Emergency services work at the scene of a fallen tree at Bath Road in Hounslow, west London October 28, 2013. Britain's strongest storm in a decade battered southern regions on Monday, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, cutting power lines and disrupting the travel plans of millions of commuters. Winds of up to 99 miles per hour (160 km per hour) lashed southern England and Wales in the early hours of Monday, shutting down rail services in some areas during rush hour. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)
Emergency services work at the scene of a fallen tree at Bath Road in Hounslow, west London October 28, 2013. Britain's strongest storm in a decade battered southern regions on Monday, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, cutting power lines and disrupting the travel plans of millions of commuters. Winds of up to 99 miles per hour (160 km per hour) lashed southern England and Wales in the early hours of Monday, shutting down rail services in some areas during rush hour. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Emergency services work at the scene of a fallen tree at Bath Road in Hounslow, west London October 28, 2013. Britain's strongest storm in a decade battered southern regions on Monday, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, cutting power lines and disrupting the travel plans of millions of commuters. Winds of up to 99 miles per hour (160 km per hour) lashed southern England and Wales in the early hours of Monday, shutting down rail services in some areas during rush hour. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)
Emergency services work at the scene of a fallen tree at Bath road in Hounslow, west London October 28, 2013. Britain's strongest storm in a decade battered southern regions on Monday, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, cutting power lines and disrupting the travel plans of millions of commuters. Winds of up to 99 miles per hour (160 km per hour) lashed southern England and Wales in the early hours of Monday, shutting down rail services in some areas during rush hour. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)
People wait at a bus stop by a damaged tree in Brentford, west London October 28, 2013. Britain's strongest storm in a decade battered southern regions on Monday, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, cutting power lines and disrupting the travel plans of millions of commuters. Winds of up to 99 miles per hour (160 km per hour) lashed southern England and Wales in the early hours of Monday, shutting down rail services in some areas during rush hour. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)
Workers clear a fallen tree from a street in south London October 28, 2013. Strong storm winds and rain battered southern parts of England and Wales early on Monday, forcing flight cancellations, disrupting trains and closing roads and major bridges. Local media dubbed the storm "St. Jude", after the patron saint of lost causes who is traditionally celebrated on October 28. REUTERS/Andrew Winning (BRITAIN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT DISASTER SOCIETY)
Residents look at a fallen tree in a street in south London October 28, 2013. Strong storm winds and rain battered southern parts of England and Wales early on Monday, forcing flight cancellations, disrupting trains and closing roads and major bridges. Local media dubbed the storm "St. Jude", after the patron saint of lost causes who is traditionally celebrated on October 28. REUTERS/Andrew Winning (BRITAIN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT DISASTER SOCIETY)
The roof of a pedestrian bridge which collapsed during strong winds is seen outside London Bridge Station in London October 28, 2013. Strong storm winds and rain battered southern parts of England and Wales early on Monday, forcing flight cancellations, disrupting trains and closing roads and major bridges. Local media dubbed the storm "St. Jude", after the patron saint of lost causes who is traditionally celebrated on October 28. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT DISASTER)

"I can't believe it. What a shock. She was a super kid. She was a great girl, good fun. I can't believe it. There's not much else I can say, really, I can't believe it.

"She was 17, a very lively girl, very sporty. We used to chat about cricket because I was into cricket and she was the only girl I knew into cricket.

"Her family must be so devastated. I can't believe it."

The tragedy came as winds of up to 100mph swept through parts of Britain, uprooting trees, knocking out power supplies and crippling transport networks.

One of Bethany's neighbours, who declined to be named, said: "(The family) were planning to join up their two buildings, and they were living in the caravans in order to do it.

"They had been living there for one and a half years, but I don't know how many of them there are. She was in one caravan, and mum was in another caravan.

"I don't know who else was there. At the end of the day the tree has come down. I won't criticise anyone working there but not one of the emergency services had a chainsaw.

"It came down to the locals having chainsaws in order to cut a gap and also the local farmer having lifting gear."

Another neighbour, who also did not want to be named, said: "We cannot believe the tragedy of it all. From what I gather, they had some buildings which they were renovating and they were living in the caravans.

"A lady came up to ask to borrow a chainsaw. We didn't even realise that it was a fatality until long afterwards. We just assumed that the young girl was going to be OK."

Bethany was an upper sixth form pupil at Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar School (TWGGS) where teachers described her as "universally respected" and with "everything to look forward to".

A sports enthusiast, she represented the county and local clubs in hockey, cricket and netball, and she was said to be a "dedicated and truly outstanding sportswoman".

In a statement, Bethany's school said: "Through her hard work and enthusiasm for sport she will never be forgotten.

"Her close friends and teachers, as well as the wider school community, will miss her beyond measure, and the school will do all we can to support girls as they struggle to come to terms with Beth's untimely death.

"All our thoughts and love are with Beth's parents and brothers at this saddest of times."

A Kent Police spokesman said: "Police were called to Hever, Edenbridge, at 7:18am this morning following a report that a teenage girl was seriously injured after a tree fell onto the static home she was sleeping in.

"Kent Fire and Rescue Service and South East Coast Ambulance Service were called to the scene. Sadly the 17-year-old died. The incident is not being treated as suspicious."

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