Widow calls for better safety measures after cliff fall tragedy

Harry McCabe

Mullion Cove in Cornwall

First published in Basingstoke by

THE widow of a Basingstoke dad, who fell to his death over cliffs at Mullion Cove in Cornwall, has called for improved safety measures to prevent further tragedies.

Harry McCabe, from Warren Way, in South Ham, had been walking the cliff path from the Mullion Cove Hotel on the first day of a weekend break to celebrate his 54th birthday when the tragedy happened at around 6.40pm on May 4 last year.

An inquest in Truro on Monday heard that Mr McCabe, who worked as an engineer, had continued past the viewing area when he disappeared from sight.

His widow Samantha, an holistic therapist, said she wanted to raise the point of safety at the cove, “to prevent this happening to any other family.”

She told coroner Dr Emma Carlyon: “If it’s happened to Harry, it could very easily happen to anyone else. There needs to be some sort of safeguard for people – some sort of fence or signs that this could happen.”

An emotional Mrs McCabe added: “I just wish I could have been there to stop him. We were so happy. He loved life. He loved looking at coves and the shoreline. He has had a look and the cliff has given away – it’s as simple as that.”

Mrs McCabe said that in the past, her husband had played practical jokes by climbing over the edge of cliffs and hiding. However, it was not thought this had happened on this occasion.

The inquest heard that she had stopped to take photographs while her husband had continued along the footpath, followed by their 12-year-old daughter Faye and a friend of hers who was with them.

Minutes later the girls returned, shouting for Mr McCabe. Moving to a higher point, in the hotel’s car park, the family saw what appeared to be part of his jumper.

“I just thought, ‘It couldn’t be – no way. It couldn’t happen to us,” said Mrs McCabe.

They raised the alarm at the hotel, and bar manager Adam Glejczuk called 999. Mrs McCabe praised the work of the emergency services, describing them as “amazing”.

A coastguard rescue team arrived first, closely followed by a search and rescue helicopter from 771 Squadron at RNAS Culdrose, Helston.

Lieutenant Commander Martin Ford, who led the team, said Mr McCabe was on a narrow ledge approximately 100ft down a sheer cliff and 40ft above the base. He was airlifted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, where he was pronounced dead.

Dr Hopkins, a pathologist at the hospital, gave the cause of death as multiple injuries, including a broken neck.

Detective Constable Jenny Doo-lan, from Falmouth police station, said there had been heavy downpours in the preceding days that could have affected the stability of the ground, and Mr McCabe could have slipped.

Coroner Dr Carlyon recorded a verdict of accidental death but made no recommendations over safety, saying that she was happy Cornwall Council’s safety committee would look at the matter on her behalf.

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