Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham-born abseiler's drowning death was 'accidental'

James Schneeberger Image copyright Facebook
Image caption James Schneeberger who had a "passion for the great outdoors" in a selfie with adventurer Bear Grylls

A man died pursuing "his passion for the great outdoors" after an abseiling accident with his brother in the Scottish Highlands.

Birmingham-born James Schneeberger, 35, started a descent of a 12-metre (39ft) ledge when he disappeared at Dundonnell gorge, an inquest was told.

His body was later found submerged in water with an "abseiling rope entangled around his neck", in August 2017.

A coroner recorded he accidentally drowned following a possible fall.

Administrator Mr Schneeberger, from Rosyth, Dunfermline, who used to live in Sutton Coldfield, described himself as a "freeskiing, climbing, marine biologist" on Twitter. He posted a Facebook selfie with adventurer Bear Grylls in July 2014.

His brother Martin Schneeberger, 33, told the BBC following the inquest: "He was keen to pursue his passion for the great outdoors and loved exploring from a young age."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The tragedy happened at the gorge along Dundonnell River in the Scottish Highlands

The men travelled to go canoeing at Dundonell River, Wester Ross, and had completed their safety checks on 5 August, 2017, the inquest at Birmingham Coroner's Court was told on Thursday.

The younger brother was first to abseil down to the fast flowing water before it was the turn of his sibling at about 14.00 GMT, the hearing was told.

Birmingham and Solihull Coroner Louise Hunt said: "James completed the first part of his descent. But due to the shape of the ledge Martin lost sight of his brother.

"After 30-seconds or so Martin looked up to the ledge and could not see his brother."

He moved several times to get a better angle to see above and also retuned to the initial descent spot - but could not find him, the inquest was told.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption James Schneeberger died as a result of an accident, a coroner has recorded

Members of the Dundonnell Mountain Rescue team carried out a search and discovered Mr Schneeberger's body submerged in water with an abseiling rope "entangled around his neck" over six-hours later at 20.30 GMT.

Pathologist Natasha Inglis later carried out a post-mortem examination at the Raigmore Hospital, Inverness. She found injuries to his face, which "raised the possibility of a slip or a fall prior to rope entanglement."

She concluded that Mr Schneeberger had "drowned due to rope entanglement after abseiling into a gorge."

Mrs Hunt added: "I'm satisfied on the balance of probabilities that his death was as a result of an accident."

His family have asked for donations to be made to Dundonnell Mountain Rescue team and thanked its members for their help in the search.

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