Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Pensioner dies on charity abseil

An elderly woman has died at a charity abseiling event at Crawley Hospital

An elderly woman has died after collapsing on a hospital roof moments before she was due to abseil in aid of charity.

The pensioner, in her 90s but who has not been named, was prepared in her kit to lower herself down the 70ft wall when she suddenly suffered a "medical episode".

Fire crews were called to Crawley Hospital in West Sussex to aid the woman but despite efforts by paramedics to resuscitate her at the scene she was declared dead. She was one of around 50 people taking part in the sponsored abseil in aid of 4Sight - West Sussex Association for the Blind, which supports blind and partially-sighted people.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "She hadn't started the abseil but she was up on the roof when she appears to have suffered some sort of medical episode."

A spokeswoman for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said three crews were sent to the scene. She said: "We were called to reports of a person who had collapsed from a suspected cardiac arrest at the hospital. It was to do with an abseil team for a charity event."

On the charity's website, it said that participants must be aged 14 or over, and people aged under 18 must have the written consent of their parent or guardian. It said: "There is no upper age limit - if you think you can do it, you probably can!"

It emerged that the pensioner had taken part in several other charity abseils.

In a statement, the charity said: "4Sight have announced that the second half of their charity abseil at Crawley Hospital had to be called off earlier today.

"A female participant, who had previously taken part in several other charity abseils, was taken ill just as she was due to proceed, and was attended to by the team and emergency services staff, which led to the closure of the abseil area to other participants. The woman was later declared dead at the scene. The matter will be passed to the Coroner's officer.

"No further details will be released by 4Sight or the emergency services until the family have been informed. We are extremely saddened by this tragic event and our thoughts are with her family at this time."

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