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  1. West Country (E)

BEAMINSTER INQUEST: Accidental death conclusion

The Coroner at the inquest in the deaths of two people that were trapped by a landslide at the Beaminster Tunnel in Dorset has recorded an accidental verdict.

It would seem excess water and the soaking of the ground was the major factor overall... but there was no conclusion that death could have occurred as a result of actions.

Ultimately what happened was a pure accident and like all accidents you could say that 30 seconds earlier or 30 seconds later, no-one would have died. It is as close as that.

– Coroner Sheriff Payne

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  1. West Country (E)

BEAMINSTER INQUEST: geologist gives evidence

Geologist and expert Dr David Clinton has told the inquest the landslip was probably the result of the slope being very steep and that the ground was probably saturated.

Dr Clinton says he thinks the vegetation was carried above ‘fluidized soil’ as it slipped. He said the soil was known as ‘green sand’.

He says the removal of trees on the slope may have contributed to the landslip but it was unlikely to have been the contributory factor.

Dr Clinton said he could not say if it was negligent to have removed them.

He added that the high water table and the fact the soil was wet may have been enough on its own to cause the landslip.

  1. West Country (E)

BEAMINSTER INQUEST: PC found two bodies

PC Roger Clark attended the scene on 16 July 2012.

He says the landslide was extensive, mud reported to be approximately 12 feet deep, and there was a tree above the vehicle.

PC Clark examined the vehicle on July 20. There were two bodies inside.

The damage to the vehicle was wholly consistent with the vehicle being subject to extreme down force. The force was of such magnitude that the vehicle was crushed by the weight.

– PC Roger Clark

In response to a question from the coroner, he couldn’t find any evidence that the car had been driven in to anything.

In response to a further question he said the height of the vehicle was lower than the normal level of the window sill.

Beaminster Tunnel inquest opens

The inquest is due to open into the deaths of a couple killed in the Beaminster Tunnel in Dorset.

Rosemary Snell and Michael Rolfe were caught in a landslide while driving home to Somerset after an evening out in July 2012. Their bodies weren't found for ten days.

The hearing, at County Hall in Dorchester, is expected to last two days.

Rosemary Snell & Michael Rolfe died in the Beaminster Tunnel in July 2012. Credit: ITV News West Country
  1. West Country (E)

Beaminster Tunnel inquest opens

The inquest has opened into the deaths of a couple killed in the Beaminster Tunnel in Dorset.

Rosemary Snell and Michael Rolfe were caught in a landslide while driving home to Somerset after an evening out in July 2012.

Their bodies weren't found for ten days. The hearing, at County Hall in Dorchester, is expected to last two days.

Rosemary Snell and Michael Rolfe died in Beaminster Tunnel in July 2012. Credit: ITV News West Country

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  1. West Country (E)

FULL REPORT: Beaminster Tunnel re-opens

A road tunnel has finally re-opened after two people from Somerset died in a landslide at its entrance. Michael Rolfe was driving through the tunnel with his friend Rosemary Snell when their car was buried under hundreds of tonnes of mud. Their bodies were discovered a week later.

That was over a year ago, and since then, the land above the tunnel near Beaminster in Dorset has been stabilised at a cost of more than £2 million. Our Dorset correspondent Duncan Sleightholme reports.

Beaminster tunnel reopens

Beaminster Tunnel reopens this morning. Credit: ITV News West Country

Beaminster Tunnel in Dorset reopens to traffic this morning.

It's been closed for more than a year after two pensioners from Somerset were crushed and killed in their car there following a landslip.

Work has included stabilising the ground by using a thousand 12 metre long nails.

Beaminster Tunnel to re-open

The Beaminster Tunnel, closed since July last year following a landslide which claimed the lives of two people, is to be re-opened.

Dorest County Council are scheduling to open up the road to traffic at 10am on Monday 29 July.

Further building work will continue beyond this date and temporary traffic signals may be used at non peak-times.

It has been a frustrating year, but, now, we can get on as before, bearing in mind this was a terrible tragedy and our thoughts are with those family and friends of those who sadly died last year.

– Rebecca Knox, local county councillor
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