A WOMAN died last week after falling from a flight of stairs during a cross-channel ferry crossing.

And officials from the coroner’s office have taken the unusual step of asking any witnesses to come forward with information.

The inquest into the death of Rita Melvin, of West Moors Road, Ferndown, was opened and adjourned at Bournemouth Coroner Court on Thursday.

Coroner for Dorset, Sheriff Payne, was told the 70-year-old had fallen down stairs on the Barfleur, a Brittany Ferries vessel travelling from Cherbourg, at around 10.50pm on April 10 as it neared Poole.

“A post-mortem of her body, conducted by pathologist Dr Hussein, recorded subdural and intracerebral and midbrain haemorrhage due to a blunt trauma as the cause of death,” said Coroner’s officer Allan Young.

Brittany Ferries communications director Steve Tuckwell said Mrs Melvin had travelled from Cherbourg to Poole on the Barfleur on April 10 and was discovered lying on the floor.

“Unfortunately there were no witnesses as to how she fell,” he said.

“An ambulance was called which met her on arrival and she was accompanied by her husband to hospital.

A report was submitted to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

“We subsequently learnt from Mrs Melvin’s son, who came to the port to collect his parent’s car, that she passed away in hospital.

“He was met by our duty operations manager who provided him with assistance as well as offering our sincere condolences to the family for their sad loss,” he said.

Following the hearing Mr Young urged anyone who witnessed the fall or saw Mrs Melvin and her husband prior to the incident to get in touch.

“We don’t know what happened at this stage,” he said.

“If anyone saw her fall we would ask them to contact the coroner’s office.”

Mr Payne adjourned the inquest until July 3 to enable further investigations to be carried out.

Anyone with information is asked to call 01202 789154.