Brother tells of horrifying moment he left his sister to drown in sea cave

Updated: 

Charlotte Furness-Smith who has died in Coasteering accident Picture taken from Royal Navy Website


A man has told of the heartbreaking moment he had to leave his sister to drown in a sea cave.

An inquest heard how Charlotte 'Buffy' Furness-Smith, 30, screamed "get me out of here" as rescuers tried to reach her in a 15ft-deep blowhole in Dorset.

Her brother Alex Furness-Smith tried to phone for help but was unable to get mobile phone signal inside the cave.

According to the Daily Telegraph, he dived underwater to swim out and attract the attention of walkers on the cliffs.

Metro reports that he said: "Buffy wanted to go with me. She said she could not bear not knowing if something had happened to me.

Tilly Whim Caves, Durlston, Swanage, Dorset England



"I said that she should be able to see me going out and if I did get into danger she would have a second chance of getting out. I asked her to stay put. I thought that was the safest thing to do."

When rescuers arrived at Tilly Whim caves, near Swanage, they put their lives at risk, spending hours trying to reach Miss Furness-Smith but were unable to save her due to the fierce waves.

An RNLI statement read: "Swanage's all-weather lifeboat launched into a rough sea and gale-force winds, and proceeded to Anvil Point. Swanage RNLI's inshore lifeboat followed at the limit of its operational capability, but returned to station after about 60 minutes due to the worsening conditions on scene.

"Rescue Helicopter 106 recovered a casualty from the water, who informed the crew that a further person was trapped in a cave nearby. Both Swanage and St Albans Coastguard Rescue teams were mobilised to join the winchman, who by now had been dropped onto the nearest ledges and was trying to communicate with the casualty through a narrow fissure connected to the cave.

"As the tide rose, many further attempts to reach the casualty were made but the rough conditions, with the tide rising and seas breaking over the heads of the rescuers at times, proved impossible to overcome.

Miss Furness-Smith, a former Royal Navy 'poster girl', and her brother had been coasteering - an extreme sport involving climbing cliffs and jumping into the sea - while on holiday.

After she died, Alex told a coastguard: "I shouldn't have left her. She should have come with me. I can't believe she has gone."

Related articles

Parents with toddler pitch tent under dangerously unstable cliff in Dorset

Tourist dies at Scotland's Fingal's Cave after 50ft fall


World's most dangerous beaches

World's most dangerous beaches