December 8 2013 Latest news:
By Matt Hunter
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
A farm worker has described how a 16-year-old girl fell off the horse she was riding and later died after the animal was startled by a tractor.
Accomplished horsewoman Lucinda Woolley, of Chattisham, near Ipswich, was riding her horse Alfie on the morning of August 7, in Little Wenham when the accident happened.
Thomas Hanmer was driving the tractor when he saw the Ipswich High School student, known as Lucy, at about 10.20am.
Senior coroner for Suffolk, Dr Peter Dean, read out Mr Hanmer’s statement at the inquest held in Ipswich today.
Mr Hanmer said: “I saw the horse and rider come out to the road and I knew it was her. Normally I just pull over and she passes me. I pulled up to let Lucy decide what to do and I noticed Lucy had pulled into a flat area which gave access to a field.
“She was having a problem with the horse. It was rearing up, it was rising but not too high - about a metre - it is not uncommon for a horse to do this. I expected her to get it under control.
“Suddenly the horse started jumping and took off at speed and raced away, she was leaving the saddle and going into the air. Then about 20 metres away I saw her fall from the horse.”
Mr Hanmer, who has known the family for several years, ran over to Lucy who was lying on the ground and checked her pulse and breathing before her mother Julia arrived.
Lucy, who was wearing a helmet at the time, was taken with Mrs Woolley to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, in an air ambulance.
She had a CT scan which revealed a “significant but isolated” head injury which Dr Dean said was causing “pressure inside the skull”.
She underwent a three-hour operation and was transferred to the critical care unit but later died from her injuries.
Mrs Woolley spoke to the EADT and Ipswich Star after the accident and said riding had been her daughter’s passion and she had competed at national level.
Since the age of three she had been riding horses and was a member of the Essex and Suffolk Pony Club. She had only recently enjoyed a week in Milton Keynes with fellow club members and had also been to the Latitude Festival, near Southwold, with her close group of friends.
Mr Hanmer said: “Seeing it happen I could not understand why the horse behaved in the way it did. The tractor had no trailer or external noise, just the engine. There was never a problem before.”
Dr Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death. He said: “Because there was very early signs of fixed dilated pupils it’s fair to say that she would not be aware of what was going around her after the moment of impact and loss of consciousness.
“It’s very clear that it was an accident that led to the loss of someone who was highly regarded and much loved. My thoughts are very much with the family at this time.”