Criticism over Dorset cliff landslide death

  • 5 November 2012
  • From the section England
Media captionThe family have criticised the emergency services

The father of a woman killed in a landslide on a Dorset beach said the emergency services took too long to make a rescue attempt.

Charlotte Blackman, 22, from Heanor, Derbyshire, died after the 160ft (49m) high cliff above her collapsed onto Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock, in July.

Kevin Blackman said rescuers should have tried to save her sooner despite the risk of further rock falls.

The fire service said it did everything it could to save Ms Blackman.

Mr Blackman said: "[Firemen] go into burning buildings straight away, they don't wait for the fire to go out.

"There was a life underneath, she still might have been alive, she just might have been unconscious. Those three and half hours might have been vital, we don't know."

'Extremely saddened'

Ms Blackman had been on holiday with her family at the nearby Freshwater Holiday Park when she was killed in the landslide, on 24 July.

Witnesses said she had been seen walking directly under the cliff moments before it collapsed.

Her boyfriend Matt Carnell and father Kevin were also buried beneath the rocks, but were pulled free from the rubble by rescuers.

Craig Baker, incident commander from Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, said they were in attendance within 10 minutes of the call.

He said: "Whilst there was a continual risk of further rock falls, specialist listening equipment and cameras were used on the rock pile from the moment the teams accessed the site of the fall, to try and ascertain Charlotte's exact whereabouts and to search for any signs of life."

He added: "We did absolutely everything we could to rescue Charlotte and were extremely saddened when we located her body."

Image caption Ms Blackman's boyfriend and her father were pulled free from rubble

Kevin and Rachel Blackman [Charlotte's mother] welcomed the news that the coast footpath on top of the cliff, that partially collapsed, had been re-routed.

The couple have been raising money in their daughter's name to help families with autistic children.

"She'd be pleased we were doing something positive, she wouldn't want us to be sad," said Mrs Blackman.

Mr Blackman added: "It was a total waste of life, she had so much to give, snapped away in a second."

In December an inquest will be held into the events surrounding Ms Blackman's death.

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