UPDATE: Tragic teacher's family criticise cave death inquest

Dorset Echo: Misadventure verdict on the death of Charlotte Furness-Smith who became trapped in a sea cave Misadventure verdict on the death of Charlotte Furness-Smith who became trapped in a sea cave

THE family of a woman who died after becoming trapped in a sea cave claim an inquest into her death was a 'sham' as they raised concerns about the rescue operation.

Relatives of Charlotte 'Buffy' Furness-Smith spoke after a verdict of misadventure was recorded.

In a statement read out afterwards, they claimed the inquest had been a 'sham' and said key witnesses had not been called to give evidence.

Teacher and former Royal Navy reservist Miss Furness-Smith, 30, died after being washed into a cave on the Purbeck coast during a coasteering adventure with her brother Alex.

Mr Furness-Smith managed to swim to safety and raise the alarm.

His sister was already dead by the time coastguard officer Ian Bugler made a heroic attempt to rescue her after being lowered through a blowhole. This prompted criticism from her family who believe delays in the rescue operation made it impossible for her to be rescued in time.

They highlighted why the operation proceeded on the basis that Miss Furness-Smith was in a place of safety when evidence by a helicopter winchman was that she was in the water.

They also queried why 'self rescue' was being considered by a coastguard team an hour after they arrived when it had been discounted earlier by two members, and also asked why it wasn't possible for a rope to be put into the blowhole to rescue her.

They also said two independent witnesses had expressed concerns about the rescue.

The statement added: “There is no proper account of what was done in the one hour and 45 minutes when the cliff rescue team were present when the evidence given that it took 30 minutes to set up the rope system.

“The family still do not know what went on during that time.

“For these reasons and the fact that significant evidence was not properly considered the family have no confidence this inquest properly examined the circumstances of Buffy's death and the rescue operation so valuable lessons could be learnt to prevent further tragedy.”

Recording the verdict, Dorset Coroner Sheriff Payne said: “The coastguards are all volunteers and do this out of the goodness of their hearts. They are trained in cliff rescue - they are not trained in cave rescue or anything of that nature.

“Obviously there was a sense of urgency by all involved. She (Charlotte) was rapidly getting more terrified of her situation and needed urgent rescue.

“What I cannot ignore is the fact that Charlotte and Alex put themselves in a risky situation in poor weather that was predicted to worsen.”

Bravery honour for coastguard

A VOLUNTEER coastguard will be recommended for a bravery award for his attempts to rescue Charlotte Furness-Smith from Tilly Whim Caves, near Swanage.

Dorset Coroner Sheriff Payne will write to the Ceremonial Secretariat to suggest a Queen's Commendation for Bravery for Ian Bugler.

Mr Bugler of St Alban's Coastguard risked his life to descend into the cave in a bid to rescue her.

The tragedy unfolded on November 2 when Charlotte and her brother Alex took part in the adventure activity, which involves free climbing on rocks and swimming.

Comments (22)

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3:36pm Wed 19 Mar 14

shy talk says...

“The inquest into the death of tragic teacher Charlotte Furness-Smith has recorded a verdict of misadventure”

I find this sentence distasteful and disrespectful to her and her family. It should read tragic death. There was nothing tragic about Charlotte who had a zest for life and a bright future ahead of her, which was cut short.

Who ever wrote this should think very hard about how they write reports in the Echo.
“The inquest into the death of tragic teacher Charlotte Furness-Smith has recorded a verdict of misadventure” I find this sentence distasteful and disrespectful to her and her family. It should read tragic death. There was nothing tragic about Charlotte who had a zest for life and a bright future ahead of her, which was cut short. Who ever wrote this should think very hard about how they write reports in the Echo. shy talk
  • Score: -30

8:02pm Wed 19 Mar 14

Sigurd Hoberth says...

Woman has fun, takes risks by their own choice, it goes wrong. Nobody is too blame but the person who chooses to put themselves at risk.

As sad as it is, if you do these things, you accept this risk or don't do them.
Woman has fun, takes risks by their own choice, it goes wrong. Nobody is too blame but the person who chooses to put themselves at risk. As sad as it is, if you do these things, you accept this risk or don't do them. Sigurd Hoberth
  • Score: 35

8:09pm Wed 19 Mar 14

Laadeeda says...

Sigurd Hoberth wrote:
Woman has fun, takes risks by their own choice, it goes wrong. Nobody is too blame but the person who chooses to put themselves at risk.

As sad as it is, if you do these things, you accept this risk or don't do them.
Totally agree. Whilst tragic to lose anyone. If you engage in high risk activities you will at some time encounter danger.

To criticise anyone for not doing enough to help is grief talking. The one thing rescuers do in any circumstance is to ensure they do not become part of the problem by endangering themselves. A dead or injured rescuer is no use to anyone.
[quote][p][bold]Sigurd Hoberth[/bold] wrote: Woman has fun, takes risks by their own choice, it goes wrong. Nobody is too blame but the person who chooses to put themselves at risk. As sad as it is, if you do these things, you accept this risk or don't do them.[/p][/quote]Totally agree. Whilst tragic to lose anyone. If you engage in high risk activities you will at some time encounter danger. To criticise anyone for not doing enough to help is grief talking. The one thing rescuers do in any circumstance is to ensure they do not become part of the problem by endangering themselves. A dead or injured rescuer is no use to anyone. Laadeeda
  • Score: 37

8:52pm Wed 19 Mar 14

jceasar says...

What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties.
The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award.
What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties. The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award. jceasar
  • Score: -30

9:39pm Wed 19 Mar 14

Rocksalt says...

jceasar wrote:
What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties.
The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award.
You seem to suggesting that we should have a specially trained team ( paid, presumably) on standby to rescue people who take chances and, in this instance, get swept into a cave. Fine, people who take part in these activities can take out insurance to pay for it.
[quote][p][bold]jceasar[/bold] wrote: What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties. The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award.[/p][/quote]You seem to suggesting that we should have a specially trained team ( paid, presumably) on standby to rescue people who take chances and, in this instance, get swept into a cave. Fine, people who take part in these activities can take out insurance to pay for it. Rocksalt
  • Score: 29

10:08pm Wed 19 Mar 14

jceasar says...

Rocksalt wrote:
jceasar wrote:
What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties.
The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award.
You seem to suggesting that we should have a specially trained team ( paid, presumably) on standby to rescue people who take chances and, in this instance, get swept into a cave. Fine, people who take part in these activities can take out insurance to pay for it.
You clearly miss where I am coming from. I am not suggesting that the victim is blameless but if you think having an incompetent leader in charge of your team then don't let me stop you. Inevitably, someone else will die. message to all visitors to dorset. Don't rely on the Dorset Coastal rescue service. Not because they don't have very competent and brave members but they suffer from poor leadership.
[quote][p][bold]Rocksalt[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]jceasar[/bold] wrote: What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties. The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award.[/p][/quote]You seem to suggesting that we should have a specially trained team ( paid, presumably) on standby to rescue people who take chances and, in this instance, get swept into a cave. Fine, people who take part in these activities can take out insurance to pay for it.[/p][/quote]You clearly miss where I am coming from. I am not suggesting that the victim is blameless but if you think having an incompetent leader in charge of your team then don't let me stop you. Inevitably, someone else will die. message to all visitors to dorset. Don't rely on the Dorset Coastal rescue service. Not because they don't have very competent and brave members but they suffer from poor leadership. jceasar
  • Score: -26

10:11pm Wed 19 Mar 14

dogloverdorset says...

Rocksalt wrote:
jceasar wrote:
What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties.
The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award.
You seem to suggesting that we should have a specially trained team ( paid, presumably) on standby to rescue people who take chances and, in this instance, get swept into a cave. Fine, people who take part in these activities can take out insurance to pay for it.
The bystanders were not, I guess trained search and rescue operatives, so their opinion ,no doubt clouded by the sad outcome, really would not stand in evidence
[quote][p][bold]Rocksalt[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]jceasar[/bold] wrote: What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties. The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award.[/p][/quote]You seem to suggesting that we should have a specially trained team ( paid, presumably) on standby to rescue people who take chances and, in this instance, get swept into a cave. Fine, people who take part in these activities can take out insurance to pay for it.[/p][/quote]The bystanders were not, I guess trained search and rescue operatives, so their opinion ,no doubt clouded by the sad outcome, really would not stand in evidence dogloverdorset
  • Score: 20

10:37pm Wed 19 Mar 14

jceasar says...

dogloverdorset wrote:
Rocksalt wrote:
jceasar wrote:
What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties.
The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award.
You seem to suggesting that we should have a specially trained team ( paid, presumably) on standby to rescue people who take chances and, in this instance, get swept into a cave. Fine, people who take part in these activities can take out insurance to pay for it.
The bystanders were not, I guess trained search and rescue operatives, so their opinion ,no doubt clouded by the sad outcome, really would not stand in evidence
Strange that, as it happened one was. Read the evidence before writing.
[quote][p][bold]dogloverdorset[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Rocksalt[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]jceasar[/bold] wrote: What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties. The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award.[/p][/quote]You seem to suggesting that we should have a specially trained team ( paid, presumably) on standby to rescue people who take chances and, in this instance, get swept into a cave. Fine, people who take part in these activities can take out insurance to pay for it.[/p][/quote]The bystanders were not, I guess trained search and rescue operatives, so their opinion ,no doubt clouded by the sad outcome, really would not stand in evidence[/p][/quote]Strange that, as it happened one was. Read the evidence before writing. jceasar
  • Score: -9

10:58pm Wed 19 Mar 14

Laadeeda says...

jceasar wrote:
dogloverdorset wrote:
Rocksalt wrote:
jceasar wrote:
What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties.
The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award.
You seem to suggesting that we should have a specially trained team ( paid, presumably) on standby to rescue people who take chances and, in this instance, get swept into a cave. Fine, people who take part in these activities can take out insurance to pay for it.
The bystanders were not, I guess trained search and rescue operatives, so their opinion ,no doubt clouded by the sad outcome, really would not stand in evidence
Strange that, as it happened one was. Read the evidence before writing.
You are obviously privy to more info than the Echo has printed.

What evidence? And who was the individual qualified to criticise the rescuers actions?

You can train for many eventualities but not all. The rescuers should not be castigated for doing their best - it is all that can do. Many of whom are volunteers. Very few are paid for this work.

An individual has tragically died in a high risk activity that really they never researched the conditions fully beforehand or this may not have ended as it did.
[quote][p][bold]jceasar[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]dogloverdorset[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Rocksalt[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]jceasar[/bold] wrote: What an extraordinarily naïve response. It is like saying that one should not be treated by the NHS if you require an operation as a result of a life style choice, ie. Smoking. The point that is being made is that the leadership of the rescue services on that day was substandard. This was confirmed by a number of independent bystanders. For some reason, the coroner choose to brush over their evidence. It is help for anyone, including the rescue services, that a proper inquest is held. If mistakes have been made, and it is clear that they were in this case, no one learns without establishing the truth. It is a disgrace that the coroner has taken the position he has. He should consider his position. He is either grossly incompetent or worse he favours his paymasters over his duties. The one thing that the coroner got right was recommending Ian Bulger for a bravery award.[/p][/quote]You seem to suggesting that we should have a specially trained team ( paid, presumably) on standby to rescue people who take chances and, in this instance, get swept into a cave. Fine, people who take part in these activities can take out insurance to pay for it.[/p][/quote]The bystanders were not, I guess trained search and rescue operatives, so their opinion ,no doubt clouded by the sad outcome, really would not stand in evidence[/p][/quote]Strange that, as it happened one was. Read the evidence before writing.[/p][/quote]You are obviously privy to more info than the Echo has printed. What evidence? And who was the individual qualified to criticise the rescuers actions? You can train for many eventualities but not all. The rescuers should not be castigated for doing their best - it is all that can do. Many of whom are volunteers. Very few are paid for this work. An individual has tragically died in a high risk activity that really they never researched the conditions fully beforehand or this may not have ended as it did. Laadeeda
  • Score: 18

11:59pm Wed 19 Mar 14

BuffysBrother says...

I am the brother mentioned in this article and whilst I find it equally abhorrent that many people refuse to take responsibilities for their own actions I would like to make a few clarifications. It is very easy to pass judgment on our motivations as a family having read such an article, particularly when many of the reported facts are incorrect and much of the information is missing.
For the record, we do engage in sports that are considered risky and we appreciate that we must own the associated consequences. For that, both my sister and I have a part to play in this tragedy and I am not trying to duck away from this. Furthermore, this article has failed to mention any of the numerous occasions that we have praised the brave Ian Bugler for his selfless actions. We do indeed hope he receives his Queen’s Commendation. We also thank the bravery of his father John Bugler for allowing him to make such an attempt.

Before I continue, I will field one of the questions that has been asked in previous comments.
"And who was the individual qualified to criticise the rescuers actions?"
This individual is named Scott Titt. He is President of the BMC (British Mountaineering council) He has an incredible wealth of experience and his reputation was known to the rescue team at the time. He submitted two statements, the second was completely disallowed, the first was heavily suppressed. And he was not present in court to read his statement or be questioned.

Moving on.
Our issue is two fold.

Firstly the leadership of the rescue team who steadfastly refused to throw down a rope with a harness in to the cave. In my opinion and those who knew Buffy, she would have had the presence of mind and ability to get herself to the rope so that she could be pulled out. Indeed the coroner and court heard that when the winch operator arrived, before the coastal rescue team, he dropped a throw bag on a line and my sister asked “Would you like me to swim to it?” He told her not to and rightly so, the line was not suitable to pull her vertically up. When suitable equipment arrived on scene this solution was discounted on the grounds that they thought she was on a ledge in a place of relative safety and this solution would place her in further danger. Buffy was never on any ledge, I can attest to this because I was in the cave with her and photos inside the cave taken by the rescue service two days later show no such ledge. On the briefest of enquiries that the coroner made as to why they came to this conclusion, it was apparent that no one knew. The leader based his whole operation on poor information and never once had the wit to question me who was in the helicopter and who had knowledge of both the cave layout and my sisters conditions and abilities.
Despite this rescue being in difficult circumstances that they had never encountered before, when asked if in hindsight he would do anything differently or if any lessons had been learnt the answer was unequivocally no and that there was nothing else they could have done to change the outcome.
Now I appreciate that this is just our opinion but ask yourselves, if an operation is run purely on false information and as a result you discount a plausible rescue option that does not involve putting one of your own men in danger surely if you had the opportunity again you would try this option knowing that every other option resulted in tragedy? In addition one lesson might be, to be more thorough about gathering available intelligence of a situation.
As I say, this is our opinion but I leave it to you to decide if it sounds unreasonable.

Secondly
The Coroner routinely suppressed evidence that was critical of the rescue operation’s leadership. He refused to adjourn the inquest to a time when 3 key witnesses could be present so that they could be questioned despite the pleas of us, our legal team and our Local MP. Because he did not make the proper effort to have these witnesses present or available via video conference then he is in violation of his duties. Finally he failed to investigate numerous obvious questions such as the above as well as ignoring conflicting accounts of evidence. I could go on but I’m conscious of writing too much.

So this is not a case of the bereaved family trying to attribute blame and have a dig at the rescue services, but rather of us trying to uncover the truth. There are many honourable brave men and women in the rescue service who do our country proud and I salute them, but surely you would agree that they can not be above making a mistake or to receive criticism. You wouldn’t have a problem with the criticism or investigation in to a doctor who ignored obvious warnings and failed to diagnose a patient correctly causing them to die, even if the cause of their ailment was as a result of something self inflicted, say binge drinking. Of course not, so ask yourself with out prejudice, if there really was a failing of communication and lessons could be learnt would you really prefer that this was ignored and would you really be satisfied that you lived in a country where the local coroner actively sought to withhold the truth?
The points I make here are far from exhaustive, the truth is a whole lot longer. I do not expect you to take my word for what I have written, I only hope that by reading this you might take a more open view of further information that you will no doubt read in the forthcoming days and consider that if what I say does turn out to be true, are we really being unreasonable?

Finally, our motivation is only to ensure that we do what we can to get the truth for Buffy and ensure that lessons can be learnt so no one else may face the same situation.
I am the brother mentioned in this article and whilst I find it equally abhorrent that many people refuse to take responsibilities for their own actions I would like to make a few clarifications. It is very easy to pass judgment on our motivations as a family having read such an article, particularly when many of the reported facts are incorrect and much of the information is missing. For the record, we do engage in sports that are considered risky and we appreciate that we must own the associated consequences. For that, both my sister and I have a part to play in this tragedy and I am not trying to duck away from this. Furthermore, this article has failed to mention any of the numerous occasions that we have praised the brave Ian Bugler for his selfless actions. We do indeed hope he receives his Queen’s Commendation. We also thank the bravery of his father John Bugler for allowing him to make such an attempt. Before I continue, I will field one of the questions that has been asked in previous comments. "And who was the individual qualified to criticise the rescuers actions?" This individual is named Scott Titt. He is President of the BMC (British Mountaineering council) He has an incredible wealth of experience and his reputation was known to the rescue team at the time. He submitted two statements, the second was completely disallowed, the first was heavily suppressed. And he was not present in court to read his statement or be questioned. Moving on. Our issue is two fold. Firstly the leadership of the rescue team who steadfastly refused to throw down a rope with a harness in to the cave. In my opinion and those who knew Buffy, she would have had the presence of mind and ability to get herself to the rope so that she could be pulled out. Indeed the coroner and court heard that when the winch operator arrived, before the coastal rescue team, he dropped a throw bag on a line and my sister asked “Would you like me to swim to it?” He told her not to and rightly so, the line was not suitable to pull her vertically up. When suitable equipment arrived on scene this solution was discounted on the grounds that they thought she was on a ledge in a place of relative safety and this solution would place her in further danger. Buffy was never on any ledge, I can attest to this because I was in the cave with her and photos inside the cave taken by the rescue service two days later show no such ledge. On the briefest of enquiries that the coroner made as to why they came to this conclusion, it was apparent that no one knew. The leader based his whole operation on poor information and never once had the wit to question me who was in the helicopter and who had knowledge of both the cave layout and my sisters conditions and abilities. Despite this rescue being in difficult circumstances that they had never encountered before, when asked if in hindsight he would do anything differently or if any lessons had been learnt the answer was unequivocally no and that there was nothing else they could have done to change the outcome. Now I appreciate that this is just our opinion but ask yourselves, if an operation is run purely on false information and as a result you discount a plausible rescue option that does not involve putting one of your own men in danger surely if you had the opportunity again you would try this option knowing that every other option resulted in tragedy? In addition one lesson might be, to be more thorough about gathering available intelligence of a situation. As I say, this is our opinion but I leave it to you to decide if it sounds unreasonable. Secondly The Coroner routinely suppressed evidence that was critical of the rescue operation’s leadership. He refused to adjourn the inquest to a time when 3 key witnesses could be present so that they could be questioned despite the pleas of us, our legal team and our Local MP. Because he did not make the proper effort to have these witnesses present or available via video conference then he is in violation of his duties. Finally he failed to investigate numerous obvious questions such as the above as well as ignoring conflicting accounts of evidence. I could go on but I’m conscious of writing too much. So this is not a case of the bereaved family trying to attribute blame and have a dig at the rescue services, but rather of us trying to uncover the truth. There are many honourable brave men and women in the rescue service who do our country proud and I salute them, but surely you would agree that they can not be above making a mistake or to receive criticism. You wouldn’t have a problem with the criticism or investigation in to a doctor who ignored obvious warnings and failed to diagnose a patient correctly causing them to die, even if the cause of their ailment was as a result of something self inflicted, say binge drinking. Of course not, so ask yourself with out prejudice, if there really was a failing of communication and lessons could be learnt would you really prefer that this was ignored and would you really be satisfied that you lived in a country where the local coroner actively sought to withhold the truth? The points I make here are far from exhaustive, the truth is a whole lot longer. I do not expect you to take my word for what I have written, I only hope that by reading this you might take a more open view of further information that you will no doubt read in the forthcoming days and consider that if what I say does turn out to be true, are we really being unreasonable? Finally, our motivation is only to ensure that we do what we can to get the truth for Buffy and ensure that lessons can be learnt so no one else may face the same situation. BuffysBrother
  • Score: 25

9:40am Thu 20 Mar 14

Equilibrium says...

Unfortunately newspaper articles rarely cover any story in depth and all the reader will receive is a brief outline of events - and even then - only events that the paper has obtained information about.

I'd like to believe for the sake of all that have lost loved ones in travic circumstances that any evidence excluded at an inquest is done so after thorough scrutiny and with proper cause. With that in mind, I wonder if Buffy's family were given an explanation for the discounted evidence?

Besides this, it has been made clear that the rescue team is only trained in cliff face recue - not cave rescue. It is hard to criticise them for decisions made in reference to incidents that they have no expertise or training in.

Has this mountaineering bystander got any more experience than the recue team in terms of coastal and tide locked cave systems? It seems unlikely that he would be able to demonstrate a higher degree if knowledge in this field, particularly when the current and tide is taken into account.

Either way, if the family has not had a thorough and logical explanation for any excluded evidence - then they are quite right to continue to fight for those answers. They deserve transparency and peace of mind.
Unfortunately newspaper articles rarely cover any story in depth and all the reader will receive is a brief outline of events - and even then - only events that the paper has obtained information about. I'd like to believe for the sake of all that have lost loved ones in travic circumstances that any evidence excluded at an inquest is done so after thorough scrutiny and with proper cause. With that in mind, I wonder if Buffy's family were given an explanation for the discounted evidence? Besides this, it has been made clear that the rescue team is only trained in cliff face recue - not cave rescue. It is hard to criticise them for decisions made in reference to incidents that they have no expertise or training in. Has this mountaineering bystander got any more experience than the recue team in terms of coastal and tide locked cave systems? It seems unlikely that he would be able to demonstrate a higher degree if knowledge in this field, particularly when the current and tide is taken into account. Either way, if the family has not had a thorough and logical explanation for any excluded evidence - then they are quite right to continue to fight for those answers. They deserve transparency and peace of mind. Equilibrium
  • Score: 2

12:11pm Thu 20 Mar 14

koeterwaals says...

I would like to applaud all those working in the rescue services. They often risk their own life to save others.

Some of those they try and save, need saving through no real fault of their own (accidents etc.) but there are also those that put themselves into a life threatening situation through their own choice.

It is very sad that some one died and my condolences go out to the family but the only people that can be blamed here are the two that decided on doing a very dangerous sport on a day that the weather was treacherous (gale-force winds and high seas).

RIP Charlotte.
I would like to applaud all those working in the rescue services. They often risk their own life to save others. Some of those they try and save, need saving through no real fault of their own (accidents etc.) but there are also those that put themselves into a life threatening situation through their own choice. It is very sad that some one died and my condolences go out to the family but the only people that can be blamed here are the two that decided on doing a very dangerous sport on a day that the weather was treacherous (gale-force winds and high seas). RIP Charlotte. koeterwaals
  • Score: 8

12:15pm Thu 20 Mar 14

BuffysBrother says...

I am the brother mentioned in this article, for the benefit of those who are only just reading this I would ask that before you pass any judgment or comment that you first read my initial comment posted Wednesday evening 19 of March that makes some attempt to clarify our position as a family.

I am acutely conscious of diverting attention from my original post and descending in to an internet debate. My posts can and indeed must only be viewed with some skepticism as my position is quite clearly biased.

That said, I would like to address the last comment and I will do my best to be objective.

I will begin with some facts of the case that I highlighted in my previous post. I strongly urge the reader not to take my word for these facts but to independently seek to confirm or disprove them. I will highlight that this is only a small portion of the overall facts and information that is available, and much more exists that is currently outside the public domain.

Fact 1: The reason stated for not initiating a self rescue was that it would take Buffy away from a ledge, a place they believed to be a of relative safety. That and the fact that air blowing up the blowhole meant that it would have pushed back up anything they sent down it.

Fact 2: The winchman previously placed a light rescue line with a waited bag on the end successfully through the blow hole, at which point my sister asked if she should swim to it. She also confirmed her position as being in the water.

Fact 3: Buffy was never on a ledge.

Fact 4: The operation leader was unable to account for his reasons for believing she was in on a ledge in a place of relative safety. Nor was anyone else questioned for that matter although not all key witnesses attended the inquest and not all those who did were asked this question.

Fact 5: The operation leader never made any attempt to pursue information from my self about either the cave layout or the abilities of my sister.

Fact 6: The rescue leadership is of the opinion if they ran the event again they would do nothing different with the exception of refusing to allow Ian Bugler to go down and risk his life unnecessarily. They stated there was nothing different that anyone could have done and that there were no lessons to be learned.

I speculate here because the coroner never asked the question, but had he asked the question, “If you knew that Buffy was never in any position of relative safety and that she had the ability and confidence to attach herself to a rope would you have done something different by dropping a rope for a self rescue?” I assume that the answer would still be no due to Fact 6.

koeterwaals

Humor me for a moment and make a very big assumption that these facts are correct. As an intelligent, independent thinking individual would you still agree with the opinions expressed in Fact 6? You do not feel there is anything left unanswered here?

In addition, are you of the opinion that regardless of how an individual gets themselves in to a situation, the rescue service, fire brigade, surgeons, doctors etc are above contestation?

Finally is it your opinion, that there is absolutely no possibility, no matter how small and remote that there maybe some truth to our concerns? And if there is a possibility that there is some truth, is it your opinion that we should not pursue it?
I am the brother mentioned in this article, for the benefit of those who are only just reading this I would ask that before you pass any judgment or comment that you first read my initial comment posted Wednesday evening 19 of March that makes some attempt to clarify our position as a family. I am acutely conscious of diverting attention from my original post and descending in to an internet debate. My posts can and indeed must only be viewed with some skepticism as my position is quite clearly biased. That said, I would like to address the last comment and I will do my best to be objective. I will begin with some facts of the case that I highlighted in my previous post. I strongly urge the reader not to take my word for these facts but to independently seek to confirm or disprove them. I will highlight that this is only a small portion of the overall facts and information that is available, and much more exists that is currently outside the public domain. Fact 1: The reason stated for not initiating a self rescue was that it would take Buffy away from a ledge, a place they believed to be a of relative safety. That and the fact that air blowing up the blowhole meant that it would have pushed back up anything they sent down it. Fact 2: The winchman previously placed a light rescue line with a waited bag on the end successfully through the blow hole, at which point my sister asked if she should swim to it. She also confirmed her position as being in the water. Fact 3: Buffy was never on a ledge. Fact 4: The operation leader was unable to account for his reasons for believing she was in on a ledge in a place of relative safety. Nor was anyone else questioned for that matter although not all key witnesses attended the inquest and not all those who did were asked this question. Fact 5: The operation leader never made any attempt to pursue information from my self about either the cave layout or the abilities of my sister. Fact 6: The rescue leadership is of the opinion if they ran the event again they would do nothing different with the exception of refusing to allow Ian Bugler to go down and risk his life unnecessarily. They stated there was nothing different that anyone could have done and that there were no lessons to be learned. I speculate here because the coroner never asked the question, but had he asked the question, “If you knew that Buffy was never in any position of relative safety and that she had the ability and confidence to attach herself to a rope would you have done something different by dropping a rope for a self rescue?” I assume that the answer would still be no due to Fact 6. koeterwaals Humor me for a moment and make a very big assumption that these facts are correct. As an intelligent, independent thinking individual would you still agree with the opinions expressed in Fact 6? You do not feel there is anything left unanswered here? In addition, are you of the opinion that regardless of how an individual gets themselves in to a situation, the rescue service, fire brigade, surgeons, doctors etc are above contestation? Finally is it your opinion, that there is absolutely no possibility, no matter how small and remote that there maybe some truth to our concerns? And if there is a possibility that there is some truth, is it your opinion that we should not pursue it? BuffysBrother
  • Score: 4

12:33pm Thu 20 Mar 14

Frank F says...

My personal view is that ALL evidence should be heard as some may only become relevant when heard alongside other evidence. To not allow certain evidence can only lead to not knowing all of the facts-right or wrong so in order to get to recommendations All the evidence HAS to be heard in order to make an informed decision.
My personal view is that ALL evidence should be heard as some may only become relevant when heard alongside other evidence. To not allow certain evidence can only lead to not knowing all of the facts-right or wrong so in order to get to recommendations All the evidence HAS to be heard in order to make an informed decision. Frank F
  • Score: 5

12:36pm Thu 20 Mar 14

koeterwaals says...

@BuffysBrother

The only fact I stated, that you do not seem to accept is that the onus of guilt lies with those that participate in dangerous sports.

I think it is totally unfair that you seem to want to blame those that tried to help (regardless of the 'facts').

We are lucky that we have brave rescue workers that are prepared to risk their lives for the stupidity of others.
@BuffysBrother The only fact I stated, that you do not seem to accept is that the onus of guilt lies with those that participate in dangerous sports. I think it is totally unfair that you seem to want to blame those that tried to help (regardless of the 'facts'). We are lucky that we have brave rescue workers that are prepared to risk their lives for the stupidity of others. koeterwaals
  • Score: 4

2:09pm Thu 20 Mar 14

JamesYoung says...

I'm sorry, BuffysBrother, but while you and your family have my utmost sympathy i do not think that this criticism of the rescue services is fair. The question that I ask myself is "if there had been no one to call, would she have survived". The great tragedy here is that the answer is probably "no", since, if she was able to rescue herself you would not have been forced to call for help. It is obviously unpalatable and i'm sure if i were in your situation i would be seeking answers too, but the reality is that the bad decision that led to this tragedy was taken long before the rescue services were involved. I hope that you and your family find peace.
I'm sorry, BuffysBrother, but while you and your family have my utmost sympathy i do not think that this criticism of the rescue services is fair. The question that I ask myself is "if there had been no one to call, would she have survived". The great tragedy here is that the answer is probably "no", since, if she was able to rescue herself you would not have been forced to call for help. It is obviously unpalatable and i'm sure if i were in your situation i would be seeking answers too, but the reality is that the bad decision that led to this tragedy was taken long before the rescue services were involved. I hope that you and your family find peace. JamesYoung
  • Score: 7

2:24pm Thu 20 Mar 14

barefooted says...

@jamesyoung

but there was people there, so surely the efficiency and effectiveness of how the situation was handled needs to be addressed, so that if an occurrence happens again there is a more appropriate response and hopefully a another death can be adverted. Its naive to think that these rescue teams (who i have massive respect and admiration for) just turn up and hope for the best. They do go through rigorous training and have to account for their actions in some way.
@jamesyoung but there was people there, so surely the efficiency and effectiveness of how the situation was handled needs to be addressed, so that if an occurrence happens again there is a more appropriate response and hopefully a another death can be adverted. Its naive to think that these rescue teams (who i have massive respect and admiration for) just turn up and hope for the best. They do go through rigorous training and have to account for their actions in some way. barefooted
  • Score: -1

4:22pm Thu 20 Mar 14

JamesYoung says...

barefooted wrote:
@jamesyoung

but there was people there, so surely the efficiency and effectiveness of how the situation was handled needs to be addressed, so that if an occurrence happens again there is a more appropriate response and hopefully a another death can be adverted. Its naive to think that these rescue teams (who i have massive respect and admiration for) just turn up and hope for the best. They do go through rigorous training and have to account for their actions in some way.
I am only responding to this because i think it is unfair to blame those who regularly risk their own lives to rescue others. The problem with holding people accountable is that the next step is liability - and if you ask volunteers to be financially/criminal
ly liable for their actions, they won't volunteer. I don't mean disrespect when i say this, but i was out that day, watching huge waves on chesil beach and listening to reports of 70mph gusts. In that context i think the caution of the Coastguard is entirely understandable.
[quote][p][bold]barefooted[/bold] wrote: @jamesyoung but there was people there, so surely the efficiency and effectiveness of how the situation was handled needs to be addressed, so that if an occurrence happens again there is a more appropriate response and hopefully a another death can be adverted. Its naive to think that these rescue teams (who i have massive respect and admiration for) just turn up and hope for the best. They do go through rigorous training and have to account for their actions in some way.[/p][/quote]I am only responding to this because i think it is unfair to blame those who regularly risk their own lives to rescue others. The problem with holding people accountable is that the next step is liability - and if you ask volunteers to be financially/criminal ly liable for their actions, they won't volunteer. I don't mean disrespect when i say this, but i was out that day, watching huge waves on chesil beach and listening to reports of 70mph gusts. In that context i think the caution of the Coastguard is entirely understandable. JamesYoung
  • Score: 7

4:34pm Thu 20 Mar 14

Chalbury says...

This is a tragic incident which was totally preventable. Time and time again incidents like this happen. Persons seeking a 'thrill' put themselves at risk without any forethought for the consequences should anything go wrong as in this case. The grief and loss that her family are going through must be horrendous - having to hear in detail in the coroners court must be unbearable.

However...their actions on that fateful day also put their rescuers lives at risk and that is unforgivable.

"A volunteer coastguard team then attempted a rope-assisted rescue through a blowhole as they said it was impossible to enter via the cave mouth" Many persons owe their lives to people who selflessly put their lives at risk to save others.

The coastline is a beautiful place in all weathers, but it must be treated with the respect that it deserves.

Don't just think of your fun - also think of the consequences that could happen those who come to rescue you - many of whom are unpaid!
This is a tragic incident which was totally preventable. Time and time again incidents like this happen. Persons seeking a 'thrill' put themselves at risk without any forethought for the consequences should anything go wrong as in this case. The grief and loss that her family are going through must be horrendous - having to hear in detail in the coroners court must be unbearable. However...their actions on that fateful day also put their rescuers lives at risk and that is unforgivable. "A volunteer coastguard team then attempted a rope-assisted rescue through a blowhole as they said it was impossible to enter via the cave mouth" Many persons owe their lives to people who selflessly put their lives at risk to save others. The coastline is a beautiful place in all weathers, but it must be treated with the respect that it deserves. Don't just think of your fun - also think of the consequences that could happen those who come to rescue you - many of whom are unpaid! Chalbury
  • Score: 11

5:18pm Thu 20 Mar 14

davecook says...

Having read and reread this sad story, it has made me decide on one thing. I would never volunteer to be a member of a rescue team as there is always the possibility that if a rescue went wrong, there would always be someone around picking over the bones of the operation in the leisure of a courtroom afterwards, trying to establish whether you did everything possible, and whether there was anything you could have done differently to save someone. Sad as this story is, it also proves that all cliff edges should have one sign, and one sign only near the edge. And the sign would read "Your safety is our concern but your responsibility".
Having read and reread this sad story, it has made me decide on one thing. I would never volunteer to be a member of a rescue team as there is always the possibility that if a rescue went wrong, there would always be someone around picking over the bones of the operation in the leisure of a courtroom afterwards, trying to establish whether you did everything possible, and whether there was anything you could have done differently to save someone. Sad as this story is, it also proves that all cliff edges should have one sign, and one sign only near the edge. And the sign would read "Your safety is our concern but your responsibility". davecook
  • Score: 11

7:44pm Thu 20 Mar 14

woodsedge says...

My own personal view is that this is a tragic accident and in memory of Charlotte and all involved, don't think any of us are in a position to comment.
My own personal view is that this is a tragic accident and in memory of Charlotte and all involved, don't think any of us are in a position to comment. woodsedge
  • Score: -2

3:21pm Sat 22 Mar 14

jceasar says...

davecook wrote:
Having read and reread this sad story, it has made me decide on one thing. I would never volunteer to be a member of a rescue team as there is always the possibility that if a rescue went wrong, there would always be someone around picking over the bones of the operation in the leisure of a courtroom afterwards, trying to establish whether you did everything possible, and whether there was anything you could have done differently to save someone. Sad as this story is, it also proves that all cliff edges should have one sign, and one sign only near the edge. And the sign would read "Your safety is our concern but your responsibility".
It is shame that most of the posts here are about apportioning blame or responsibility. I don't believe anyone, least of all the family, think that responsibility does not lie with Buffy.

However, after each tragedy the actions of those involved should be reviewed, to suggest otherwise is naive. It is clear that the Coast Guard have not done this by the fact that they have not provided answers to why it took them so long and why they failed to drop a rope. There was no reason for any member of the rescue services to have been put into any danger had they dropped a rope as was suggested. In fact, it was grossly negligent of the team leader to have chosen that option rather than dropping a rope.

As for the Coroner, I am astonished that a public official can behaviour in that way. At best he is incompetent. I hope that the powers that be take some steps to review his conduct.
[quote][p][bold]davecook[/bold] wrote: Having read and reread this sad story, it has made me decide on one thing. I would never volunteer to be a member of a rescue team as there is always the possibility that if a rescue went wrong, there would always be someone around picking over the bones of the operation in the leisure of a courtroom afterwards, trying to establish whether you did everything possible, and whether there was anything you could have done differently to save someone. Sad as this story is, it also proves that all cliff edges should have one sign, and one sign only near the edge. And the sign would read "Your safety is our concern but your responsibility".[/p][/quote]It is shame that most of the posts here are about apportioning blame or responsibility. I don't believe anyone, least of all the family, think that responsibility does not lie with Buffy. However, after each tragedy the actions of those involved should be reviewed, to suggest otherwise is naive. It is clear that the Coast Guard have not done this by the fact that they have not provided answers to why it took them so long and why they failed to drop a rope. There was no reason for any member of the rescue services to have been put into any danger had they dropped a rope as was suggested. In fact, it was grossly negligent of the team leader to have chosen that option rather than dropping a rope. As for the Coroner, I am astonished that a public official can behaviour in that way. At best he is incompetent. I hope that the powers that be take some steps to review his conduct. jceasar
  • Score: 1

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