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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 18:05 GMT
Families' pain at accident verdict
Photomontage of the two schoolgirls
Hannah Black and Rochelle Cauvet (right) were killed
The families of two teenage girls who drowned on a school adventure trip have blamed the teachers who led them, for the tragedy.

Rochelle Cauvet, 14, and 13-year-old Hannah Black died during a trip near Settle in October 2000 planned by Royd's School, Oulton, near Leeds.

Both were swept away by a flooded stream as they walked at the edge of the water with a school party.

Anyone with common sense would not have gone near the raging river

Rochelle's family
The two families spoke out after an inquest jury returned verdicts of accidental death on Friday.

Tony Sugare, a spokesman for the Black family, said: "While the jury have returned verdicts of accidental death in no way can this be interpreted that nobody was to blame for what happened.

"My clients feel that they entrusted the school with the safety of Hannah and they failed miserably to discharge their duty of care.

He said the family felt a "singular lack of common sense" was shown by the two teachers who led the children on the river walk.

This view was echoed by a spokesman for Rochelle's family.

The spokesman said: "We wish to express our disappointment and hurt at today's verdict.

They said the children were taken "river walking in treacherous conditions without proper supervision and the very minimum of safety equipment.

No forgiveness

"Anyone with common sense would not have gone near the raging river.

"This tragedy could have been so easily avoided if any thought or common sense had prevailed.

"We will never forgive those responsible."

Assistant North Yorkshire coroner John Sleightholme said after the verdicts that he would be contacting the Health and Safety Executive and Leeds Education Authority to call for action to prevent similar tragedies.

Peter Cornall, water safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) said: "We feel there is a real need for tighter controls to prevent further tragedies."

ROSPA has issued a series of suggestions for improved safety following the deaths of Rochelle and Hannah.

Jury observations

The group is hoping the recommendations will be included in a government review of safety on school trips.

The outing, which involved paddling along the river bed, was taken by teachers Andy Miller, 48, and Liz Schofield, 28.

Mr Sleightholme, concluded his summing up on the deaths of the girls on Friday morning before directing the jury to return verdicts of accidental death.

Mr Sleightholme, who will be writing to the authorities with his recommendations, said a verdict of unlawful death by gross negligence was not a viable option in the Royd's school case

Mr Sleightholme also encouraged members of the jury to write down any observations they might have.

The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"Certain individuals had failed in their responsibilities"
The Black's family spokesman Tony Sugare
"This river walk should never have taken place"
Chief Education Officer Keith Burton
"We will make sure every lesson is learnt"

Click here to go to Leeds

Click here to go to BBC North Yorkshire
See also:

08 Mar 02 | Education
Fresh school safety review pledged
27 Feb 02 | England
Teacher saw girl washed away
21 Feb 02 | England
Rules would have banned fatal walk
19 Feb 02 | England
River inquest told of boy's escape
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