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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Freezing conditions killed nurse
Shelley Whitfield
Shelley Whitfield's body was found face down in the snow
A nurse bit her own wrists to try to remain conscious before she froze to death after collapsing in the snow, an inquest heard.

Shelley Whitfield, 21, was found face down in a playing field near her home in Brandon, near Durham City, in March.

After an afternoon out with a friend, she caught the wrong bus and collapsed in the grounds of a sports centre as she tried to walk home.

Coroner Andrew Tweddle recorded a verdict of misadventure.

The inquest at Chester-le-Street Magistrates Court heard Miss Whitfield chose not to wait another 10 minutes for the right bus, which would have dropped her outside her flat.

After taking the wrong bus, the auxiliary nurse tried to walk to her house but became disorientated and collapsed.

She was wearing a thick coat, but discarded it as the hypothermia she was suffering caused her to believe wrongly she was too warm.

It was decided she was trying to arouse herself from the stupor in the time before consciousness was lost
Pathologist Dr James Sunter

Home Office pathologist Dr James Sunter told the inquest there were bite marks on her wrist.

He said: "It was decided she was trying to arouse herself from the stupor in the time before consciousness was lost.

"All the findings are consistent with hypothermia due to exposure to cold."

Tests showed she had an alcohol reading of 147mg per 100ml of blood, about twice the drink-drive limit, which would have left her mildly intoxicated, he said.

Det Chief Insp Andrew Reddick said Ms Whitfield's family was coming to terms with the loss.

He said: "But they are bitterly upset that such a young life has ended in this way.

"They have heard today how she was popular at work, a hard-working individual, having a number of friends who clearly cared about her."


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