Dorset

Dorset cave death siblings 'changed plans'

  • 18 March 2014
  • From the section Dorset
Charlotte "Buffy" Furness-Smith
Charlotte "Buffy" Furness-Smith was a maths teacher and former Royal Navy reservist

The brother of a woman who died in a sea cave in Dorset has told an inquest that they were going kitesurfing but changed their plans due to the weather.

Charlotte, 30, and Alex Furness-Smith had been coasteering when they became trapped at Durlston, near Swanage, on 2 November last year.

Mr Furness-Smith, 31, managed to get out and went to find help.

By the time rescuers managed to get to his sister she had died. Her body has never been found.

Ms Furness-Smith, known as "Buffy" to her friends, was a former Royal Navy reservist and a maths teacher at Bristol Free School.

The inquest at Bournemouth Coroner's Court heard how the pair had been climbing and swimming along the cliff face - an activity known as coasteering - when the weather deteriorated even more.

Blowhole conversation

Winds of 35mph and waves of 3ft (1m) pushed them into Tilly Whim cave, a sea cave at the old stone quarries at Durlston.

Inside the cave it was pitch black and they were being tossed upside down by the waves, Mr Furness-Smith told the hearing.

After several failed attempts he managed to escape and raised the alarm.

A coastguard helicopter arrived within eight minutes and he was winched to safety.

Paramedic winchman Adrian Rogers was then lowered to a blowhole at the top of the cave from where he spoke to Ms Furness-Smith still trapped inside.

He said he called to her: "Are you ok? Can you hear me?"

She replied: "Yes."

Mr Rogers was unable to lift her out of the blowhole and a specialist rescue team was called.

When they got inside the cave they discovered Ms Furness-Smith's lifeless body lying face down in the water.

They were not able to recover the body and subsequent searches failed to find it.

The inquest continues.

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