Essex

Bethany Farrell gap year drowning: Failings blamed for scuba death

Bethany Farrell, pictured at her graduation from Southampton University. Image copyright Caron Farrell
Image caption Bethany Farrell drowned at the start of her gap year having graduated from the University of Southampton

A British gap year student who drowned on the Great Barrier Reef during her first ever scuba dive died due to "various failings", a court has heard.

Bethany Farrell, 23, of Colchester, Essex, died while scuba diving off the coast of Queensland.

She panicked after becoming separated from her friend and their instructor during an introductory dive trip, Chelmsford Coroner's Court heard.

Ms Farrell's family has called for the diving company to face prosecution.

The court heard that Australian health and safety investigators were critical of firm "DL20 Trading Pty Ltd".

Ms Farrell died just a week into her gap year on 17 February 2015.

Recording a narrative verdict, senior coroner for Essex, Caroline Beasley-Murray told the court: "The deceased drowned in Blue Pearl Bay, Hayman Island.

"There were various failings in the way in which the diving activities were carried out."

They said the company had not allowed people to practise with buoyancy devices and had failed to test the competency of first-time divers.

'Real-life angel'

After the inquest, Bethany's father Patrick, 48, said: "Ultimately, Bethany went on a paid-for organised trip and was completely let down.

"The whole point of an introductory dive is it's an introductory dive."

Her mother Caron, 51, wept on hearing the conclusion of the inquest and, after the hearing, described her daughter as a "real-life angel", adding: "She was lovely, she was just beautiful."

Bethany died six days after arriving in Queensland for a gap year, having graduated from an English literature and media course at the University of Southampton.

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