Woman died after hitting head in Clevedon Raft Race water fall
A woman died after hitting her head when she fell into the water at a charity raft race in Somerset.
Jane Newport, 66, was taking part in last September’s Clevedon Raft Race with friend Christine Harris when she fell from her raft while trying to get on board and struck her head.
Mrs Newport, of Clevedon Road, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, received no medical attention but her daughter Leiza Alpass raised the alarm when her mother failed to meet her in Bristol.
The community centre owner was found dead at her home three days later by former partner Andrew Simms.
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An inquest at Flax Bourton Coroner’s Court recorded that she had died on September 19 as a result of an accident.
A statement from Mrs Harris said Mrs Newport was a close friend who she knew as Coco. Describing the day of the accident, Mrs Harris said that on September 16, she and Mrs Newport had dressed up as the Owl and the Pussycat characters for the annual raft race.
“The water was about four feet deep,” Mrs Harris said. “Coco said she would get on first. She immediately disappeared sideways into the water. She emerged from the water fairly quickly and was laughing a lot. One of the group asked her at least five times if she was all right and at no point did she say she had banged her head.
“We then meandered onto the lake. She said her head felt cold. I asked if she wanted to stop and she said no, she would not. When we were on the lake she appeared lucid and coherent and her actions were co-ordinated. We were tipped over at the end of the competition as well but we were ready for that and she, like me, went in feet first.”
Mrs Harris said that Mrs Newport complained of a headache later but appeared normal “in all other respects.”
“I phoned her the next day and we had a good laugh about the raft race but she mentioned she still had a headache,” Mrs Harris said.
Mrs Newport sent Mrs Harris a text message about a walk but when Mrs Harris phoned the following day, September 18, she was unable to make contact with her friend.
Andrew Simms, Mrs Newport’s former partner, said in a statement that he had gone to her house following a call from her daughter, who could not contact her.
After Mrs Newport failed to answer his phone calls, he obtained a key from a neighbour and entered the house and called out for her and her dog Charlie.
“I went up the stairs and was greeted by her dog Charlie,” his statement said.
“I got to the bathroom and she was lying on her back with her head towards the bath. I knew she was dead.”
“I only knew she had banged her head because Leiza had told me,” he said. “She did not mention the charity raft race.”
A report from pathologist Dr Tim Moss said the cause of death was a head injury consistent with a recent blow.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, assistant deputy coroner Terence Moore said: “The post-mortem examination showed no natural diseases but did reveal a head injury consistent with her death.”