Page last updated at 18:11 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 19:11 UK

Caves sealed off after fatality

Aiden Peter Brookes
Aiden stopped breathing after the rock fall and later died

Caves in Shropshire have been sealed off after a teenager was killed and another seriously hurt when part of a cave roof collapsed.

Aiden Peter Brookes, 16, of Bridgnorth, died in hospital following the collapse at Hermitage Caves, east of the town, in the early hours of Monday.

An 18-year-old woman was taken to hospital with back injuries but is thought to be in a stable condition.

Police have issued a warning about entering caves following the death.

Rocks and rubble fell on a group of friends who were camping inside the sandstone caves, off Lodge Lane.

They form part of the 8,500 acre Apley Estate owned by Lord and Lady Hamilton, and are adjacent to a public right of way.

'Inherent dangers'

The caves were sealed off by West Mercia Police on Monday and the Health and Safety Executive has been informed.

Friends visited the site to lay flowers for Aiden

On Monday night a strong security fence was put up by the landowners Apley Estates at the request of police to prevent people putting themselves at risk.

By 0800 BST on Tuesday, a company spokesman said, it had been broken apart.

Chf Insp Martin Whitelegg said: "We are still investigating the full circumstances and the reason why the upper parts of the cave collapsed.

"But this tragedy clearly demonstrates the inherent dangers posed by caves, old quarries, mines and the like. Great care is obviously required when entering such places and people should stay well clear unless they are properly equipped and know exactly what they are doing.

"We have to learn from this tragedy and recognise the dangers."

'Loved rugby'

A spokesman for the estate said it "would like to express its sincere condolences at the loss and injury which appear to have been a tragic accident."

Police said it believed that a group of youngsters had lit a fire inside the caves but was still investigating the cause of the collapse.

Map of Shropshire
The caves are located to the east of Bridgnorth in Shropshire

West Midlands Ambulance Service said Aiden, of Paulbrook Road, had gone into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing after the rock-fall. He died later at 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.

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

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

Head teacher Sarah Godden described Aiden as an excellent student, who was popular with staff and pupils and would be sadly missed.

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

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

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Cave roof collapse kills teenager
06 Apr 09 |  Shropshire

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