With 100′ high cliffs there are always cliff deaths and other tragic accidents that happen to holidaymakers and locals alike. In order to keep their memory alive, below is a list of those stories. It includes bodies found in the sea, drowning surfers and swimmers, those who fell from cliffs and a couple who still lived to tell the tale.
It is not possible to list them all – as, often, having found a body there’s no further reporting of the matter in local newspapers. However, here are some of the unfortunate victims who passed away on Newquay cliffs, or suffered tragedies:
- September. Father and son James O’Donnell, aged 21 and Stewart O’Donnell, aged 50, from Stoke on Trent. Holidaymakers, they were body-boarding at Holywell Bay near Newquay and became separated from their boards when caught in a rip current.
- 20 January. Stephen Park, aged 27, a co-owner of the Towan Beach backpackers’ hostel, was celebrating a birthday with a group of friends and suggested they continue the party in a cave close to Lusty Glaze Beach. Stephen Park was swept off the rocks close to the bottom of the cliffs by a large wave; he was seen trying to swim back, but he got dragged under the water. His body was never found; he was the son of Mrs Jackie Park, of Kendal in Cumbria
- 29 March. Paul Vernon, aged 29, of North London, fell off the cliff into Harbour Beach, opposite the Red Lion pub in Newquay at 10.30pm. He was out drinking with friends. He was found on the beach, but died of head, leg and internal injuries.
- 5 June. Wendy Catherine Brooks, from Bridgwater, fell from the cliffs behind the Atlantic Hotel at about 2pm and died of multiple injuries. Aged 28, Wendy was in Newquay with a friend, looking for work, and they’d pitched their tent on the cliff edge, which was in a dangerous spot.
- 14 September. The body of 17 year old Carl Clarke, of Norris Street, Plungington, Preston, Lancashire, was found on Tolcarne Beach. It’s thought he lost his way and took a wrong turn. Carl was on the first day of a week-long caravan holiday with his cousin, Anthony Leach, and two other friends.
- 14 June. A 31 year old local woman, Angela Harrison, was found critically injured at the bottom of cliffs on Pentire Headland – she was taken to Hospital, but died. There were no suspicious circumstances surrounding her death; she had been reported as a missing person by her husband, Anthony Harrison of Meadowside, Treloggan. Suicide. Her husband has since set up the Angela Harrison Fund to help others with post-natal depression. http://help4mums.org/
- 14 August. Richard Chapman, aged 25 from Abbey Wood, fell off the cliff at Barrowfields, Newquay and lost his life at about 3.30am.
- 12 April. A 26-year-old holidaymaker from Bridgend, Wales fell down a cliff while walking back from the Lewinnick Lodge. He was left fighting for his life in Hospital. I believe he lived.
- 25 December. Kevin Morrison. Body found between Whipsiderry Beach and Watergate Beach. A 38 year old man, living on Mount Wise, Newquay, Kevin had been a former employee of Newquay Tourist Information Centre. Reports said Kevin had been leading a double life with a stash of illegal pornography. Suicide. http://www.westbriton.co.uk/cliff-death-man-hid-sex-secrets-shame/story-11461943-detail/story.html
- 28 June. Andrew Curwell. Body found at foot of cliffs on Great Western Beach. An 18 year old talented rugby player from Saddleworth in Greater Manchester. Andrew Curwell was on holiday with 12 friends and had been looking for his wallet that he’d lost after a pub crawl and fell off the cliffs.
- 30 June. Mark Chapple, from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, was found half way down the cliff at the Gazzle, Newquay, behind the Atlantic Hotel. He was spotted by a group of people who were coasteering. When found, Mark, a pupil at Sir William Borlase’s School, was unconscious. He had been lying there for 12 hours with a broken neck, fractured skull and an assortment of other injuries. Mark had been out on the town with friends and had no memory of how he ended up at the bottom of the cliff. He lived.
- 6 July. Paddy Higgins. Body found at foot of cliffs on Tolcarne Beach. Aged 16, from Wokingham in Berkshire he was on holiday with friends when he fell down the cliff. He had been served alcohol during his night out, including sambuca in a restaurant about two hours before he died, allegedly at the Indian Express restaurant, Central Square, Newquay where a photo of the group holding alcohol aloft was taken.
The Coroner declared an open verdict: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10436248
- In April 2010, a double stag party group of six, including two grooms, had to be rescued when the lift they were in at the Victoria Hotel plummeted 100 feet/30 metres down to ground level, smashing into the concrete base the door buckled so they were trapped. The lift is cut into the cliffs, ending up at the beach. Nobody died, but injuries were sustained and the rescue services had to cut them out of the lift against a rising tide. Injured parties included Stephen Dinsdale, aged 42, of Molesey Road, Hersham, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, who hurt his leg.; groom-to-be Neil McCracken, aged 42, of Weybridge, Surrey, who was due to marry Georgina White on 27 August; Carl White, aged 43, due to marry Tanya Simmons. 85 emergency service workers were involved in the rescue. The surviving five were able to continue their planned celebrations.
- 4 February. An unidentified body was pulled from the sea below Pentire Headland at around 2.45pm. This was later identified as Mark Neville of Newquay. Suicide.
- 1 April. An unknown body was discovered on rocks between Whipsiderry Beach and Watergate Bay, at bottom of the cliff. It was believed to be of a missing man from Truro.
- 2 June. Body found on Whipsiderry cliffs. Suspected he was a 25 year old man missing from Surrey.
- 28 August. A 26 year old holidaymaker from the Isle of Man suffered head injuries when he fell 60′ from cliffs above Towan Beach after he stepped over the safety fence at 4.30am and lost his footing. He lived but has life changing injuries and was taken to Treliske Hospital, Truro.
- 7 January. Oliver Doy, aged 26, son of Tim and Jeane Doy from Hook, Hampshire, was on a surfing trip with two friends – they were in town getting drunk. Body found on Towan Beach – he may have climbed over a fence at behind Belushi’s hostel, Fore Street, where he was staying, and fallen down the sloping cliff face into the sea. His body was not found for six days, when it washed up on Tolcarne Beach. There was also speculation that Oliver Doy could have climbed the fence to urinate, as his trousers were unzipped and unbuckled when his body was found.
- 11 May. Jez Griffiths, a 31 year old man from Nutwick Road, Havant, Hampshire. was found collapsed on the slipway to Towan Beach while on a stag weekend with friends. Inquest said it was a tragic accident and he’d slipped and banged his head. A plaque has been laid in his memory in his home town.
- 1 June. Luke Griffin. Body found on Great Western Beach. 20-year-old from Stroud, Gloucestershire. On holiday with his local football club. Coroner said “Drowned while under the influence of alcohol and cocaine following a recent head injury”. He had lost his friends, got into a fight with two men in a car park and had his head stamped on – he refused medical help and walked towards his accommodation; he then fell over the cliff. He was still alive on the beach but was drowned by the incoming tide. He was found by a dog walker the following morning.
- 4 November. 62 years old William Horgan’s body was found by dog walkers one Sunday morning on Great Western Beach at Newquay. Identified as a local homeless man and ex-builder. An inquest declared he had drowned, but they didn’t know how; he was found close to the spot where he was known to rough sleep. His blood alcohol was three times the drink-drive limit.
- 19 March. A body was found on Whipsiderry Beach and brought ashore by the Lifeboat. This was a local 41 year old woman, later named as Mrs Jillian Constant of Porth Way, Newquay. An open verdict was reached; they decided she hadn’t jumped and might’ve simply slipped and fallen into the water, where she drowned.
- 7 June. A local man died when his car went over the cliff at Tea Caverns. An early morning kayaker saw the car on the cliffs; the wipers were still going and the engine running – he could see a body hanging from the passenger window, so called 999. I have found no name for this chap to date.
- 25 October. Body found after man seen climbing over railings at Belushi’s Bar Beer Garden and deliberately falling head first from the 40′ cliffs. The Inquest established this was Zack Robberts, from Walvis Bay, Namibia, who was visiting Newquay with his partner, Martine Dean and her son of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire. 28 year old Zack Robberts was bi-polar. Suicide. He left family in Namibia, including his parents Peet and Ilse Robberts, as well as his twin brother Nico Robberts, and younger brother Danie Robberts
- 16 November 2013. Woman’s body found in sea after belongings were washed up. A search was mounted for 58 year old Mrs Susan Marchant of Pentire Road Newquay. She died of a drugs overdose. An open verdict was declared and they couldn’t work out how she got into the water, probably didn’t fall from cliffs. She left a widow, Peter Marchant and an adult daughter.
- 29 September. Rita Dow. Found unconscious in a cave on Porth Beach. Aged 83, believed to have fallen from the cliffs near Whipsiderry Beach. Rita was taken to Treliske, but later died. Death is not being treated as suspicious, but the police were searching for a man she was supposed to be meeting at the Mermaid Inn that day. Rita had lived at Trerice Drive, Newquay since 1999. At the inquest, Rita was described as a frail pensioner with Alzheimer’s Disease. Rita Dow died after tumbling from cliffs near Whipsiderry Beach and slipping through the beach blowhole into a cave and suffering fatal injuries. Rita was a widow, having lost her husband Malcolm Dow (aged 82) on 16 August 2005, they had three adult children.
- 14 October. 16 year old Connor Simmonds, a sixth-form pupil at Treviglas School, Newquay, was found on Whipsiderry Beach at 11am; his rucksack was found at the top of the cliff. He had lost his footing. He was taken to Hospital, where he was put onto Life Support in a critical condition. Connor was in Hospital for a long time, but lived and in June 2015 he did his bit when family and friends held a 24 hour cycle ride, raising £3,300 for Cornwall Air Ambulance, by cycling 12,000 miles between them. Connor’s parents, Terry and Suzie Simmonds, were told at first to expect him to not pull through.
- 25 October. 23 year old Newquay man Anthony Miller drowned when he went skinnydipping with a friend. His body was found washed up on Great Western Beach by the emergency services who were called at 3am to Towan Beach when he was reported as missing, having decided to go for a swim while under the influence of alcohol. Anthony and his friends had been partying at his flat when they decided to go for a skinnydip, his friend turned back, but Anthony kept going and was caught up in a rip tide. Anthony’s story on video: Anthony Miller, Newquay
- October. Three people drowned at Mawgan Porth – none were in the sea, they all went in to save a group of teenagers who were in trouble. Simon Calder, a 52 year old knee surgeon from Leeds, Kevin Reynolds an engineer and driver aged 44 from St Austell and Rachel Dunn a 42 year old civil servant from Sticker, St Austell.
For cliff deaths 2015 onwards, see: Cliff Deaths in Newquay 2015-Now