Tuesday 17 October 2017

Student 'killed instantly' following rockfall during beach side picnic

Benjamin Wright

A student died instantly following a rockfall during a beach side picnic, an inquest has heard.

Georgina Le Fjord was sitting on the beach in Llantwit Major, south Wales, in June with best friend Martha Ormerod to celebrate the end of her A-Levels when debris from a cliff gave way.

Cardiff Coroner's Court heard that the 23-year-old was the "the happiest she had ever been" after suffering from depression.

Ms Ormerod, who was sitting close by when the cliff face gave way, sobbed as the coroner told of the efforts to save Ms Le Fjord's life.

"We did not think that we were sat close to the rocks ... we tried to take precautions and were sat about 15 feet (4.5m) away," she said in a statement read to the court by a court official.

"As we were sat down enjoying our picnic I heard a sudden noise behind me ... I turned around and saw Georgie lying on her front.

"At first I thought she had managed to dive out of the way.

"Her arms were out-stretched and I could see a lot of blood coming from her head."

Eyewitnesses then raced to help Ms Ormerod, who immediately began giving first aid.

Among them was Claire Louise Hobson, who was on the beach at the time with younger brother Jonathan looking for fossils.

"I told my brother to stay away from the cliffs as I was quite fearful of them ... as there had been a rock fall there a few days previously," she told police.

"The rocks which fell onto the girl did not come from the top but from the rock face.

"I think perhaps about three or four large rocks hit her ... at the time I did not think that she was that badly hurt.

"But when I got closer ... blood was pouring out of her mouth."

Consultant pathologist Dr Fouad Alchami later said Ms Le Fjord would have died almost instantly, and gave the cause of death as blunt force head trauma.

Police Constable Mark John, who later broke the news to boyfriend Paul Biggs, said it was the most distressing incident he had seen in his police career.

Ms Le Fjord and PhD student Mr Biggs had met in 2012 through mutual friends and later went travelling to Australia and Vietnam before arriving back in the UK last year.

He was credited with playing a key role in helping Ms Le Fjord after she struggled to cope with the death of step-father John.

Mum Jackie Cleary, 53, described her daughter as inquisitive and with a passion for knowledge as well as having varied interests including nature, art, martial arts and science.

She added: "The last few years of her life she was truly at her happiest."

Before recording a conclusion of accidental death, assistant coroner Thomas Atherton said: "This can only be described as a terrible tragedy ... involving a young lady who had just started to put her problems behind her.

"She thought she was safe when she sat 15ft foot away from the cliff face - but the precautions that were taken were not enough.

"I am satisfied that she was struck on the head by falling rocks and would have died instantly as a result."

Mr Atherton said the death served as a reminder of how of dangerous rocks near cliffs can be, especially as they can fall "without warning".

Press Association

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