Many questions remain unanswered after experienced climber fell to his death in Derbyshire

Mystery surrounds how an experienced climber came to fall to his death at a quarry in Derbyshire.

Monday, 17th June 2019, 10:56 am
Horseshoe Quarry in Stoney Middleton is a popular spot for climbers.
Horseshoe Quarry in Stoney Middleton is a popular spot for climbers.

Timothy Edwards, 69, suffered extensive injuries when he plunged from a high rock face at Horseshoe Quarry in Stoney Middleton.

An inquest into Mr Edwards' death heard questions remain unanswered about the exact circumstances leading up to the tragic fall.

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'I couldn't believe what was happening'

Chesterfield coroners' court was told much-loved Mr Edwards - who had been a climber for more than 50 years - scaled Horseshoe Quarry with his long-term climbing partner Geoffrey Mee on June 8 last year.

Giving evidence, Mr Mee said: "I looked up not expecting to see anything - and saw Tim falling.

"I couldn't believe what was happening."

Mr Mee added that his 'first reaction' was to grab the rope, but Mr Edwards was unattached from the rope at this point.

The inquest heard Mr Edwards, who was married with children, fell around 65ft before rolling around 30ft down an embankment.

Mr Mee and paramedics made efforts to revive the retired IT programme manager, but he was sadly pronounced dead.

Four possible scenarios

After hearing several hours of evidence, coroner Peter Nieto said he believed there were four possible scenarios which might explain what happened that day.

He told the court: "The first is that Tim detached himself from the rope - but on the evidence there's no reason why he would have done that."

Mr Nieto said the second possible scenario was that Mr Edwards - who had eyesight problems, a loss of sensation in his hand and a large stomach - may have mis-tied the rope in his harness.

But he added that this was 'unlikely' as Mr Edwards, of Chepstow, was a 'very experienced' climber - and it is likely he would have become detached from the rope earlier in the climb had he mis-tied it.

According to Mr Nieto, the third possible scenario was that the equipment was faulty - but police investigations did not find any problems with it.

Mr Nieto added: "The fourth possible scenario is that Mr Mee failed to hold the rope to prevent the fall.

"However, on the evidence, it seems that Tim was not attached to the rope at the time of the fall."

'Many unanswered questions'

Mr Nieto concluded that Mr Edwards died as a result of an accident.

He said: "Mr Edwards died as a result of falling from a high rock face that he was climbing and sustaining unsurvivable injuries.

"Although the immediate cause of his death is clear, the specific details of how he came to fall given his climbing experience and use of equipment is very unclear.

"However, the level of uncertainty does not displace a conclusion of accident."

Addressing Mr Edwards' family, Mr Nieto added: "Unfortunately this is a case where there aren’t any clear answers other than what has been the cause of Tim’s death - the cause of Tim's death was the fall from the rock face.

"The specifics of how that happened are still very unclear.

"There isn't any finding I can make in terms of the fine detail.

"There are many unanswered questions."

He offered his condolences to Mr Edwards' loved ones as the inquest concluded.