Inquest could be held for Charlotte “Buffy” Furness-Smith, who died at Tilly Whim cave

INQUEST: Charlotte Furness-Smith who died whilst coasteering at Tilly Whim caves on the Dorset coast

INQUEST: Charlotte Furness-Smith who died whilst coasteering at Tilly Whim caves on the Dorset coast

First published in News by , Reporter

AN INQUEST could be held for the missing teacher who drowned in a Swanage cave despite her body never being found.

The tragedy happened on Saturday, November 2, when Charlotte “Buffy” Furness-Smith went coasteering with her 31-year-old brother Alex and was washed into the Tilly Whim cave.

Despite brave attempts by rescuers who spent hours talking to her through a blowhole they couldn’t reach her in time.

A hero officer even made the decision to squeeze down the 1.5-foot gap filled with sea spray in an attempt to reach her – but discovered that she had died as the seawater rose.

Now, Dorset’s senior coroner Sheriff Payne has confirmed that he will wait until six months has passed before writing to the Chief Coroner in London to request an inquest.

He said: “A reasonable period has to pass before applying for an inquest in these situations when a body has not been found.”

Last month family and friends paid tribute to Charlotte, aged 30, a teacher and former Royal Navy poster girl who worked at the London Olympics.

In a family statement her mum Patricia, 57, and dad Charles, 58, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, were stated as ‘devastated’.

Ms Furness-Smith’s godfather Jon Coles said: “Buffy was a wonderful girl with an engaging personality and a fabulous friend to all. “She was a dedicated and vivacious teacher who loved the outdoor life.”

Ms Furness-Smith was born in Trinidad and Tobago and the family moved to the UK when she was eight. She joined the Royal Navy Reserves at Exeter University where she graduated in engineering before going on to qualify as a maths teacher.

She was part of the Navy’s recruitment team and was based at the unit HMS Wildfire in Northwood and had even visited Downing Street before volunteering to serve in the second Gulf war in 2008.

Coasteering is an adventure activity that involves free climbing up and along a rock face and jumping into the water to swim.

At the time of the tragedy, Dave Turnbull, of the Swanage lifeboat, said: “With the tide getting higher another coastguard officer entered through the blowhole but found the woman had sadly succumbed to the conditions. It was very sad and a truly awful situation to have been in.”

Comments (11)

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8:25pm Sat 4 Jan 14

oscar9999 says...

R.I.P
R.I.P oscar9999
  • Score: 4

10:56am Sun 5 Jan 14

jceasar says...

RIP
RIP jceasar
  • Score: 1

8:02pm Sun 5 Jan 14

jceasar says...

It seems odd that that the rescue services spent 2 hours but never did anything for 2 hours when conditions must have become much worse. Are these people professionals?
It seems odd that that the rescue services spent 2 hours but never did anything for 2 hours when conditions must have become much worse. Are these people professionals? jceasar
  • Score: -8

8:25pm Sun 5 Jan 14

swanite says...

jceasar wrote:
It seems odd that that the rescue services spent 2 hours but never did anything for 2 hours when conditions must have become much worse. Are these people professionals?
What a pathetic and thoughtless comment. Unless saw the conditions faced, understood all the circumstances and had a clue about what was involved I'd think twice about making comments like that!
[quote][p][bold]jceasar[/bold] wrote: It seems odd that that the rescue services spent 2 hours but never did anything for 2 hours when conditions must have become much worse. Are these people professionals?[/p][/quote]What a pathetic and thoughtless comment. Unless saw the conditions faced, understood all the circumstances and had a clue about what was involved I'd think twice about making comments like that! swanite
  • Score: 5

7:54am Mon 6 Jan 14

jceasar says...

Clearly not professionals but you you miss the point. When conditions are getting worse common sense tells you that you don't wait to do something.
Clearly not professionals but you you miss the point. When conditions are getting worse common sense tells you that you don't wait to do something. jceasar
  • Score: 1

9:28am Mon 6 Jan 14

swanite says...

Clearly you don't understand it at all.... Did it ever cross your mind that it wasn't just as easy as 'popping into the cave and getting her out'. Sending someone else in through the cave entrance would have just increased the number of fatalities on the day.
Clearly you don't understand it at all.... Did it ever cross your mind that it wasn't just as easy as 'popping into the cave and getting her out'. Sending someone else in through the cave entrance would have just increased the number of fatalities on the day. swanite
  • Score: -1

9:58am Mon 6 Jan 14

The Happy Chatterer says...

jceasar wrote:
It seems odd that that the rescue services spent 2 hours but never did anything for 2 hours when conditions must have become much worse. Are these people professionals?
.....thought something very similar at the time.....2 hours a long time to wait under any conditions....sooner the inquest starts the better so the actual circumstance of the event can be properly investigated.
[quote][p][bold]jceasar[/bold] wrote: It seems odd that that the rescue services spent 2 hours but never did anything for 2 hours when conditions must have become much worse. Are these people professionals?[/p][/quote].....thought something very similar at the time.....2 hours a long time to wait under any conditions....sooner the inquest starts the better so the actual circumstance of the event can be properly investigated. The Happy Chatterer
  • Score: 0

12:15pm Mon 6 Jan 14

BarrHumbug says...

I don't see the point in this article? There could be an inquest? and then there won't be an inquest until at least May?

If you read it properly (I know thats difficult with the Echo's primary school level of reporting) I think you'll find they spent 2 hours desperately trying to rescue her through the cave entrance, each time being beaten back by the wind, waves and tide, before getting down to her through the blow hole and that still didn't mean they would have been able to rescue her back through the hole, 18 inches isn't much to squeeze your shoulders through?
I don't see the point in this article? There could be an inquest? and then there won't be an inquest until at least May? If you read it properly (I know thats difficult with the Echo's primary school level of reporting) I think you'll find they spent 2 hours desperately trying to rescue her through the cave entrance, each time being beaten back by the wind, waves and tide, before getting down to her through the blow hole and that still didn't mean they would have been able to rescue her back through the hole, 18 inches isn't much to squeeze your shoulders through? BarrHumbug
  • Score: 0

7:31am Tue 7 Jan 14

jceasar says...

does not sound very bright to spend 2 hrs trying to rescue through the mouth of cave only to try something else afterwards. Although swanite seems to have ruled out the entrance option. If time was of the essence common sense would suggest that you try everything at the same time. Of course they may have thought they had all day. I am sure it was not easy but there is nothing reported which suggests that they tried anything other than getting a man down after 2 hrs, hence my initial comment. I could be wrong but swanite's reaction suggests not.
does not sound very bright to spend 2 hrs trying to rescue through the mouth of cave only to try something else afterwards. Although swanite seems to have ruled out the entrance option. If time was of the essence common sense would suggest that you try everything at the same time. Of course they may have thought they had all day. I am sure it was not easy but there is nothing reported which suggests that they tried anything other than getting a man down after 2 hrs, hence my initial comment. I could be wrong but swanite's reaction suggests not. jceasar
  • Score: 1

8:33am Tue 7 Jan 14

swanite says...

As happy chatterer said, sooner the inquest the better when everyone will find out about the facts instead of gossiping about them from their armchairs.
As happy chatterer said, sooner the inquest the better when everyone will find out about the facts instead of gossiping about them from their armchairs. swanite
  • Score: -1

11:30pm Tue 7 Jan 14

jceasar says...

and sooner the better so that lessons can be learned so that other unfortunate individuals are not left to to die unnecessarily
and sooner the better so that lessons can be learned so that other unfortunate individuals are not left to to die unnecessarily jceasar
  • Score: 2

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