Page last updated at 18:59 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 19:59 UK

Cave roof collapse kills teenager

Aiden Peter Brookes
Aiden Peter Brookes died in the collapse

A 16-year-old boy was killed and a teenager was hurt when a cave roof partially collapsed in Shropshire.

Rocks and rubble fell on a group of teenagers camping at the Hermitage Caves, off Lodge Lane, Bridgnorth, overnight, West Mercia Police said.

Aiden Peter Brookes, of Bridgnorth, died in the collapse early on Monday.

An 18-year-old girl was taken to hospital with back injuries. She was described as stable and her injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

Police said it was believed that a group of youngsters had lit a fire while camping in the sandstone cave.

'Tragic accident'

A West Mercia Police spokesman said: "At this stage we are trying to establish exactly what happened but it seems that a quantity of rocks and rubble fell on those inside when part of the cave collapsed.

"It appears to be a tragic accident."

The spokesman added: "Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service dealt with a small fire inside the cave."

West Midlands Ambulance Service said the boy had gone into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing after the rock-fall.

Cave
Police said it appeared to have been a "tragic accident"

Michelle Brotherton, the service's divisional commander for Shropshire, said a crew arrived at the scene eight minutes after the initial 999 call, which was made from a mobile phone.

Paramedics immediately took over attempts to resuscitate Aiden from his friends, who had been given instructions by an ambulance service operator.

The teenager later died at the Princess Royal Hospital, in Telford.

A post-mortem examination has been held and the South Shropshire Coroner is expected to open an inquest later this week, police said.

The Health and Safety Executive has been informed.

A Facebook page set up in tribute to Aiden has already attracted more than 150 members.

Friend James Harrison wrote: "Such a great guy, surely will miss him, a supportive soul for his family and his friends, and greatly admired within the Air Cadets and from school."

Another friend, Keely Sheridan, added: "Aiden, it is true some people are just too good for this world."

'Sadly missed'

The teenager had been a pupil at Oldbury Wells School in Bridgnorth.

Head teacher Sarah Godden described Aiden as an "excellent" student.

She said he was "popular with staff and pupils" and would be "sadly missed".

Hermitage Caves
The teenagers were camping in the caves when the roof collapsed

The head teacher added: "Our thoughts are with Aiden's family and friends and everyone connected with the incident at this very difficult time."

Fred Allen, who played rugby with him, said there was not a "bad bone in his body" and he would have had a "very bright future in front of him".

Five friends of the dead teenager visited the caves to lay flowers.

One teenager said Aiden's wide circle of friends were all "absolutely gutted" to have lost someone who brought a smile to everybody.

He said: "He (Aiden) loved his rugby and he was a lovely lad. He will be hugely missed - he was funny and always made everyone laugh."

Tim Ball, who lives nearby in Lodge Lane, said he used to spend hours playing in the caves as a child, where people sometimes lit fires, but he never worried about his safety at the time.

Mr Ball, 38, said: "There have been cave-ins recently because of the tree roots coming through the rock.

"The roots are pushing the sandstone down."

Another resident, Matthew Winwood, said he often saw people in and out of the caves, having parties and lighting fires.

"It's a dangerous place," he said.

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Police at the scene of the fatal cave roof collapse



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