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Mine shaft probe 'to reopen' after new evidence emerges

1 May 10 14:36 GMT

A fatal accident inquiry into the death of a woman who fell down a mineshaft in Ayrshire is to be reopened, it has been confirmed.

Alison Hume had been taking a shortcut home when she fell 40ft into the disused mineshaft in Galston in 2008.

The initial inquiry heard the 44-year-old lay for six hours at the bottom of the hole after health and safety rules stopped firefighters from rescuing her.

It is thought the inquiry will be reopened after a witness came forward.

A fatal accident inquiry at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court was adjourned at the end of March after Sheriff Desmond Leslie finished hearing evidence.

But the Crown Office confirmed it had made an application to reopen the inquiry on the basis of new evidence.

Heart attack

A spokesperson said: "The Crown have considered new information which has been submitted and have made an application to the sheriff to reopen the inquiry.

"The family of Alison Hume have been advised of developments."

The original inquiry heard testimony from a senior fire officer, who said it was not in the fire service's remit to conduct a rescue of that nature, as regulations stated their equipment was for saving themselves, not members of the public.

A second senior fire officer who was at the scene supported the claim that safety rules prevented the rescue.

He told the inquiry a further collapse of the shaft could have been triggered, which could have buried Ms Hume and the firefighter.

Ms Hume, a solicitor who worked with the Renfrewshire legal firm McCusker McElroy and Co, was eventually freed by mountain rescue experts.

But the mother-of-two suffered a heart attack as she was being brought to the surface.

Dr David Chung, from Crosshouse hospital's casualty department, said Ms Hume died from a combination of hypothermia and chest injury but that these were survivable.

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