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.”