Fallen soldier's colleagues praised
A coroner has commended the colleagues of a soldier for risking their lives to help her after she was injured in an explosion as she tried to detonate a bomb in Afghanistan.
Captain Lisa Jade Head, of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, the Royal Logistic Corps, lost her limbs in the blast in an alleyway in Helmand Province on April 18 2011.
The 29-year-old, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, was flown home and treated in hospital in Birmingham, where she died the next day. She was the second female British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan.
At Bradford Coroner's Court, Coroner Paul Marks told the inquest into Capt Head's death that it was "testament to her own physical stamina" and the quality of care she had received that she survived for as long as she did with the "catastrophic injuries". He also praised colleagues who went to her aid.
Professor Marks told Corporal Adam Tucker: "At potential risk to your own lives, you went to the help of one of your fallen comrades and did your absolute best." He added: "I commend you on that."
Cpl Tucker told the inquest that he and Capt Head had gone to the alleyway in Nahr-e-Saraj after reports of a suspicious device being found there. He said Capt Head defused one Improvised Explosive Device (IED) before retreating to a safe distance.
She returned into the alleyway with a colleague to take photographs when a second device partially exploded, resulting in no injuries. Cpl Tucker said: "I asked Captain Head over and over again if she was happy to continue and being a stubborn Yorkshire woman as she was, she was quite happy to continue."
The soldier said Capt Head returned into the alleyway again and a third device detonated. Cpl Tucker said he grabbed a weapon, medical kit and metal detector to search down to Capt Head but, when the dust cleared, he realised there was no time to search safely. "We took the risk and ran down to Captain Head," he said. "On arrival to Captain Head, we realised she was a quadruple amputee and time was limited."
The inquest was told that Capt Head lost both legs, one arm above the elbow and digits on her other hand in the blast. The cause of death was given as blast injuries caused by an explosion, including head injury. Prof Marks offered his sympathies to Capt Head's relatives, who were not present at the inquest.
Prof Marks recorded a verdict that Capt Head was unlawfully killed on active service in Afghanistan. The coroner praised the officer for her courage. He said: "I cannot praise too highly the courage of Lisa Head and her colleagues. The reason for this is because they are all volunteers deployed in a theatre of war far from home and family for our continuing benefit and security."