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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April, 2005, 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK
Alps river death was 'accidental'
Alex Foulkes
Alex Foulkes was on a hiking holiday in the Italian Alps
A student who drowned after falling into a river on a school hiking holiday in the Italian Alps suffered an accidental death, a coroner has ruled.

Alex Foulkes, 17, of Harrogate, North Yorks, fell as he attempted to find a shortcut across a river in the Val d'Aosta region on 14 July, 2003.

The boy's grandfather berated a guide who told the inquest he would not change anything about the trip.

The student was part of a group of 12 pupils from Harrogate Grammar School.

Defined path

After hearing how the group of students had behaved impeccably during the walk, the coroner heard they were allowed to make their own way back to their lodge, but under strict instructions.

They had been told to follow a clearly defined path and not to leave it on the way down the mountainside.

But Alex Foulkes had left the path and tried to find a shortcut over the river instead of using the bridge.

A fellow pupil said the youngster disappeared from view and the next time he saw his was as he was being swept downstream.

Despite extensive searches by teachers and mountain rescue teams his body was not discovered until the two days later.

Court outburst

Experienced mountain guide James Thompson, who had gone on a "dummy run" of the expedition weeks before the party had walked all the routes and checked out all the lodges.

He told the coroner Geoff Fell he was fine with the decision to let the boys walk back to the lodge unsupervised.

But the youngster's grandfather Ramaynsam Tharmanantaar stood up and criticised the guide, saying, "They haven't learned anything from what has happened".

The coroner said the trip was well organised and the group well prepared. The leaders had done everything possible to ensure the safety of the students.

Dr Philip Limbert, the head teacher at Harrogate Grammar School, said after the verdict that both the staff and pupils would never get over the death of the sixth-former.




SEE ALSO:
Family's goodbye to school trip victim
25 Jul 03 |  North Yorkshire
Body of missing student found
16 Jul 03 |  North Yorkshire
Search resumes for school trip student
16 Jul 03 |  North Yorkshire


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