Sussex coroner warning over Frances McKeown sea death

  • 1 October 2013
  • From the section Sussex
Frances McKeown
Image caption Ms McKeown ran into the sea with up to 11 people but stumbled and was pulled into the surf

The death of a woman who was swept out to sea off Sussex after she went for a paddle in rough conditions should remind people about the dangers of the coast, a coroner has said.

East Sussex coroner Alan Craze heard how Frances McKeown, 51, was swept away in high winds and 6ft waves.

She had joined an informal gathering of people for a paddle on Christmas Day.

An inquest in Hastings heard she went into the sea with up to 11 people but stumbled and was pulled into the surf.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, Mr Craze said: "We can't bring her back but I hope that anything that appears in the media is a salutary reminder that the sea has got to be treated with respect."

The inquest heard the community worker joined the group at St Leonards after hearing about the event on Facebook.

Her partner, John North, had been filming her but noticed her in difficulty, the hearing was told.

A buoyancy aid was fetched but could not be flung far enough.

Mr North said she had no intention of swimming and had just wanted to get her feet wet.

He said Ms McKeown, of St Leonards, had health problems and said: "This dip was her way of taking advantage of the mobility that she had."

Tests for drugs and alcohol proved negative, the hearing was told and the cause of death was "hypoxic brain injury due to drowning".

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