Former High Sheriff ‘swept away for half a mile’ by floodwater

The former High Sheriff of Derbyshire was swept away for half a mile after driving into floodwater, an inquest has heard.

Annie Hall’s body was recovered from flooded farmland close to the River Derwent in Darley Dale, near Matlock, in the early hours of November 8.

Chesterfield Coroner’s Court heard how the car Mrs Hall and her husband had been driving in became “partially submerged” and both had exited the vehicle after the engine seized at around 1am.

Autumn weather Nov 8th 2019
Some streets near to the River Derwent were underwater after a month’s worth of rainfall in a day (Josh Payne/PA)

Giving evidence at the opening of the inquest into the 69-year-old’s death, Sergeant Phillip Bateman from Matlock’s local policing unit said the couple then left the car on foot, before Mrs Hall was “swept away by the current”.

A post-mortem examination confirmed her cause of death as drowning and that she sustained no head injuries.

Mrs Hall, who lived in Aston in the Water near Bakewell, served as the county’s High Sheriff – a ceremonial role representing the sovereign – in 2017 and has been described as a “great leader”.

Her death came after parts of the Midlands and northern England were battered by a month’s worth of rain in one day.

Autumn weather Nov 8th 2019
Prime Minister Boris Johnson helps with the clean-up at an optician in Matlock (Danny Lawson/PA)

Speaking from the witness box on Monday, Mr Bateman said: “The brief circumstances are that at around 1am on the morning of November 8, Mrs Hall and her husband drove into some floodwater near Darley Dale.

“Unfortunately, the car became partially submerged, the engine seized and they left the vehicle on foot.

“She subsequently went into more floodwater and we believe she got swept away by the current.”

Mr Bateman continued: “Her body was recovered from flooded farmland approximately half a mile from where she was last seen.

“The doctor confirmed her death at the scene.”

After her death, Mrs Hall’s family released a statement which said: “It is with great sadness that we, the family of Annie Hall, report her sudden passing.

“We are in great shock and grieving.”

Senior Coroner for Derby and Derbyshire, Dr Robert Hunter, adjourned the inquest until a date to be fixed.

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