Family would not have seen warning signs

Dorset beach tragedy.
Dorset beach tragedy.

Charlotte Blackman was killed instantly by a ‘sudden act of nature’ that no one could have predicted, an inquest was told.

The 22-year-old from Heanor, died in a massive landslide at Burton Bradstock beach on July 24 while staying with her family at Freshwater Holiday Park.

Charlotte was spending a day at the beach with her father Kevin, 12-year-old brother Mitchell, his school friend, and Matthew Carnell - her boyfriend of around seven years - while her mother Rachel remained at their caravan park nearby.

She was only 7ft feet away from her father and her boyfriend when she was buried by 400 tonnes of rock, the inquest at County Hall in Dorchester was told.

Mr Blackman said he shouted for the group to get out of the way seconds before she was buried.

He said: “I heard a noise, looked up and saw a bit of dust come out a crack.

“I shouted run, turned around and she was gone.”

One witness, David Warren, said he shouted a warning to the group not to go down the beach where he had seen a landfall but her family say they did not hear him.

But Mr Blackman said: “I wouldn’t have taken my kids near it if I had seen a landslide.

“If I knew there were cliff falls we wouldn’t have been there.

“We heard nothing and saw nothing - it was just a sunny day when we walked along the beach.”

A post mortem report stated that Miss Blackman’s death was caused by non-survivable injuries and would have been instantaneous.

Dorset coroner Sheriff Payne added that the tragedy could not have been predicted.

He said: “Charlotte has died as a result of an accident, an entirely unpredictable incident.

“Her father Kevin was also inured and it is fortunate he didn’t suffer more serious injuries.

“This was a sudden act of nature that nobody could have expected, in particular those poor members of her family.

Mr Payne said the evidence shows that the cliffs are totally unpredictable and that the weather does not help in pre-empting landslides. He said the National Trust, which owns a stretch of the beach where it happened, is doing all it can to warn visitors of the dangers of the unstable cliffs.

He also expressed his condolences to the Blackman family for their loss.