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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Inquest rules Lake District fell walker's death a ‘pure accident’

The tragic death of an experienced walker who fell from Striding Edge was an accident “in the purest sense”, a coroner said.

Decorated RAF engineer Robert Pascoe, 24, died after plunging from Helvellyn’s notorious ridge on October 4 last year, while walking with friend Adam Cowles.

Mr Cowles, who had known Mr Pascoe for more than six years, told an inquest hearing that he believed his friend “just lost his footing”.

“It was not windy or raining but the ground was quite wet so I think his foot just went,” he said. “He was about four metres in front of me – I saw him go down and then he just continued falling.”

Mr Cowles desperately tried to raise the alarm with his mobile phone but there was no signal and he was forced to scramble down the mountain to get help.

The pair were visiting the Lake District for the weekend and had set off from Glendridding between noon and 1pm, planning to do a circular walk around Helvellyn.

They had the right equipment, experience and time to complete their journey, the inquest heard.

Sergeant Alistair McCaig, who attended the incident in his role as a Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team member, said: “He was properly kitted out for the walk. There was no issue whatsoever with the condition of it, or his boots.”

Mr Pascoe’s father, also Robert, told the hearing that he wanted to thank everyone involved in the rescue, including Mr Cowles.

Ian Smith, coroner for South and West Cumbria, said: “There was nothing that Mr Cowles could have done. He did everything he could do to assist and get help. I would also like to pay tribute to the mountain rescue team, who are all volunteers.

“The verdict I am recording is accidental death. It was something that happened out of the blue with no prior warning or expectation. Mr Pascoe did it all right but still paid a heavy price for one slight misjudgement of where he put his foot.”

Mr Pascoe, from Liverpool, was an Afghanistan veteran who was presented with an Operation Service Medal from Prince Charles when he was just 19, because of his willingness to go above and beyond.

He was the eighth person to die on Striding Edge in five years.

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