Tributes to seafront fall victim

By Sharon AsplinTHE grieving daughter of a woman who died when her invalid carriage plunged 25ft on to a beach called last night for a safety investigation at the site.

By Sharon Asplin

THE grieving daughter of a woman who died when her invalid carriage plunged 25ft on to a beach called last night for a safety investigation at the site.

Eileen Grellier, 85, from Holland-on-Sea, was riding the vehicle along the lower promenade below Kings Parade in Clacton when the accident happened on New Year's Eve.

Although it was still unclear what had caused the accident, her daughter, Eileen Goodman, said if barriers were installed, it might stop another family having to suffer.

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Mrs Goodman, who lives near Cambridge, added: "It is not a nice way to die, falling 25ft on to stones and I think there perhaps should be barriers along the promenade because not only are there people like my mother with invalid carriages, but kids on motorised scooters and people with pushchairs.

"I would just hate to think of this happening to someone else. There are a lot of people in the Clacton area reliant on these motorchairs and it does not take much to lose control and go over the edge."

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Mrs Goodman suggested the authorities could consider banning vehicles from the promenade, which she admitted might be difficult to enforce, or at least investigate to see whether barriers of some sort might be helpful.

"Falling 25ft is the equivalent of falling from the roof of a house and I just feel if something is done, then something good could come out of this," she added.

A post-mortem examination is due to be held on Tuesday and Mrs Goodman said her mother had also suffered from angina and had eye problems, so she could not rule out these as being a possible cause or a factor in her death.

"She did have heart problems, but I do not think it was a heart attack as I'm sure she would have taken her hands off the machine, which would have stopped it," she added.

Mary Bragg, who represents the Holland Residents' Association on the St Bartholomew's ward of Tendring District Council, said: "This is very sad, especially this time of year. The association committee always checks the promenade every year, looking at safety and broken handrails.

"I intend to go and look myself to make sure everything is all right there and would be happy to investigate any safety issues raised if necessary."

Emergency services were called to the 25ft wide Victorian promenade, close to the junction with The Chase, at 11.17am on Wednesday. Mrs Grellier was airlifted to Colchester General Hospital by the Essex Air Ambulance, but was certified dead on arrival.

Essex Police are currently following up a number of leads in their investigation, including looking into the pensioner's health and the condition of her invalid carriage and the promenade.

They were also keen to hear from anyone with information about a similar incident that apparently happened in the same area a few weeks ago.

Pc Kelvin Westall, of Stanway traffic police, said: "This appears to be a tragic accident, but there are lots of issues to look into and we must not jump to conclusions. I am preparing a file for the coroner and everything possible to be done is being done."

Mrs Grellier, who was originally from Ilford, was a qualified hairdresser, but ill-health forced her to switch to office work instead. She retired to the Tendring area 16 years ago with her husband, Donald, who died in 1996.

Mrs Goodman said: "She worked very hard throughout her life as there was never a lot of money. She was a giggler when she was younger. I think my father dying pretty much finished her and after that she just lived for her rescue dogs."

The pensioner's current dog, Zebbee, was with her when she died. As well as her daughter, she leaves a son, Richard, and two grandchildren, Gina, 16, and Emma, 21.

Mrs Goodman also thanked her mother's carers and former neighbours, Shirley and Bert Kent, for the "terrific support".

Anyone with information about the accident should contact Pc Westall, of Stanway traffic police, on 01206 762512.

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