Inquest Into Aiden Webb Mountain Death

24 October 2016, 13:20

The girlfriend of a climber found dead in water on the tallest mountain in Vietnam had pleaded with him to get help when he got into difficulty, an inquest heard.

Aiden Webb, 22, had set out on a solo ascent of Mount Fansipan when he tried to make his way around a landslide and lost the trail path, his girlfriend Bluebell Baughan said in a written statement.

She was also in Vietnam and stayed in contact with him by text messages and Facebook posts as he first slipped and cut his bicep and then hurt his knee as night drew in.

"I was becoming very fraught when he said he had become lost and couldn't find the trail. We realised the last cable car was gone and he had to spend the night on the mountain."

She said he only had a pair of shorts on, was shivering and wanted to find shelter.

Bluebell added: "I told him it was too dark and dangerous [to move]".

Mr Webb said his legs had been soaked since 8am on June 3 2016 when he set out, and Miss Baughan kept messaging him into the early hours of June 4.

At 3.29am Mr Webb sent a message to say he had decided to try going back down the mountain on a trail beside a stream with waterfalls.

In a final text message sent at 6.18am he agreed for Miss Baughan, who was also on holiday in Vietnam, to raise the alarm and request help. Miss Baughan's reply to him failed to deliver to his phone.

The body of Mr Webb was found in water in a ravine almost a week later in an area that local police said had many cliffs, deep gorges and slippery surfaces.

Local police concluded that Mr Webb had drowned while unconscious after a fall in water, and his parents requested that a post-mortem examination was not carried out in Vietnam.

A post-mortem examination was conducted after his body was repatriated to the UK, but failed to establish a cause of death - partly as the body had been embalmed.

The examination noted cuts and scratches caused by climbing, but no fractures or haemorrhages.

Yvonne Blake, area coroner for Norfolk, recorded an open conclusion at Monday's hearing at Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich, which was not attended by any of Mr Webb's family.

Ms Blake said:

"We know that he was trying to climb Fansipan mountain alone, we know that he got into difficulties, he was injured and had a deep cut on his arm.

He said he badly hurt his knee and couldn't move very well, and we know he was found in a stream.

The medical cause of death was unascertained as he was embalmed."

She extended her condolences to the family of Mr Webb, who was born in Norwich, lived in Attleborough, and had been a student at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

Always a joy to be around

His parents Simone and Trevor Webb said in a written statement:

"Aiden was such a joy to be around. We're incredibly close as a family and feel privileged to have been his parents."

They praised everyone who had been involved in the recovery of their son's body.

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