Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 18:31 UK

Girl 'scared' on fatal North Yorkshire cave trip

Joseph Lister
Joe Lister died when flood water swept through the cave in 2005

A classmate of a boy who drowned in a flooded cave on a school trip has described how she was "petrified" as water levels rose.

Joe Lister, 14, died in Manchester Hole Cave, in the Yorkshire Dales, in 2005.

North Yorkshire County Council denies failing to ensure the health and safety of employees and non-council employees.

Amy Ryder told Leeds Crown Court that she, her classmates and their teacher panicked as the water rose rapidly from ankle-deep to nearly shoulder-level.

Joe was part of a group of 11 Tadcaster Grammar School pupils who went to the cave with three adults.

'No preparation'

The court heard they were told they could not go into another cave because water levels were too high and were instead taken into the adjoining Manchester Hole.

Miss Ryder, 19, who was 14 at the time, said some of the head torches used by the pupils were brighter than others, which she described as "fading", and said the group only had one spare battery between them.

She said their equipment was not checked before going into the cave, which the group had to stoop or crawl on their hands and knees to get through.

After some time in the cave, Miss Ryder described to the court how the water began rising rapidly.

Police officer at Manchester Hole
The jury paid a visit to the scene on Thursday

When they returned to the entrance of the tunnel, known as the Crawl, Miss Ryder said the group found the hole filled with water.

She said everyone was "panicking" and added: "I was scared, petrified".

Miss Ryder was helped through the Crawl by a teenage volunteer with the group and said they only realised Joe was missing when they did a count of all the pupils at the other side.

He was later found by a rescuer with his head torch still on but minus his Wellington boots.

Miss Ryder described getting through the tunnel as "very difficult" and said the group had not been prepared for it.

She said they had not been told anything about having to go underwater or swim and had not had a dummy run or tried out crawling while wearing their equipment.

The trial, which is scheduled to last six weeks, was adjourned until Monday.

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