Bude drowning inquest

An inquest has been hearing how a mother from Somerset died while trying to save her children from drowning off the Cornish coast.

Live updates

Somerset mum drowning inquest: full report

Harrowing details of how a mother from Somerset died trying to rescue her own children on a beach in Cornwall were revealed at an inquest today.

Alison Tooby died at Northcott Mouth near Bude last September after getting caught in a lethal rip-tide, the day after lifeguard cover had been lifted. Her boys, aged 11 and 13, survived.

Seth Conway reports:

'Accidental death' verdict for mother who drowned

A mother from Somerset drowned after attempting to save her two sons from a lethal rip-tide off the Cornish coast, an inquest heard.

Alison Tooby from Wellington sprang into action after seeing her boys getting into difficulties while body-boarding at Northcott Mouth in Bude on September 3 last year.

Members of the public, aided by RNLI Bude inshore lifeboat, rushed to help and rescued one boy while the other got back to shore by himself.

Alison, 53, was found face down in the water and after resuscitation attempts failed she was airlifted to hospital and later pronounced dead.

I went straight in and could see two people in the waters edge 80 metres from shore clinging to a body board.

At that stage these were my priority, so I went towards them. As I got closer I saw a lady in a black swimming costume face down in the water.

My priority then changed to the lady. I paddled to her, pulled her from the water and turned her to face me and checked for vital signs but she was unresponsive.

– Martin Fry, lifeguard supervisor, RNLI

This was a tragic accident and I would like to thank everybody who helped.

Especially the people who went into the water to help because having listened to this today it is clear that they were very brave to do that.

– Mike McGuffie, Alison's partner

An inquest in Bideford, Devon, heard how the summer lifeguard cover has previously ended a day before the tragedy.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Tomalin said:

Tragedy is the right word to describe this incident in regards to losing her life but this could have been a lot worse of course as her children were also in danger.

That is a reminder to all of us about the beaches in the South West and that we must respect the sea and take care.

Please do accept my condolences to you, your family, your children and I thank you for coming today, I am sure it has not been easy.

– Coroner Tomalin


Inquest into mum who drowned trying to save her children

Inquest into death of woman who drowned at Northcott Mouth. Credit: Viewer's video

An inquest is taking place into the death of a woman who tried to rescue her two children from the sea off the Cornish coast.

Alison Tooby from Wellington died last September at Northcott Mouth. Lifeguard cover on the beach near Bude had been lifted just a day before the tragedy.

The RNLI said it would be reviewing its operational hours. Her sons, aged 11 and 13, both survived.

Back to top