Travellers who plunged to deaths in Vietnam waterfall ‘not warned of dangers’

A coroner has ruled that three British tourists who plunged to their deaths in a Vietnam waterfall were not properly warned of the dangers they faced.

Sisters Izzy Squire, 19, and Beth Anderson, 24, died with friend Christian Sloan, 24, during a guided day trip in the Dalanla waterfalls area of the southeast Asian country in February 2016.

Miss Squire and Miss Anderson, both from Sheffield, and Mr Sloan, from Deal, Kent, wore life jackets and helmets as they slid head-first down a natural water slide before ending up in a 6ft deep pool, coroner Chris Dorries was told.

Instead of exiting the pool, they disappeared over the next tier of the river complex and died when they went over a 50ft high waterfall.

Their guide, Dang Van Si, claimed that he had warned them about how to get out of the pool safely.

However, this was contradicted by a range of witnesses, who were found through a Facebook appeal by Mr Sloan’s family, the inquest heard.

The coroner said he did not accept Mr Van Si’s account and ruled that he had either not given any warning or had failed to ensure it was fully understood.

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Mr Dorries told Sheffield Coroner’s Court: “I am clear on the balance of probabilities of the fact that this compromised the safety of the group.

“They had chosen the tour with care and with a conservative view as to risk.

Izzy (left) and Beth Anderson with their friend Christian Sloan who also died

“They were not adequately warned of the risks to be found at the bottom of the slide and, in particular, that there was a potentially lethal hazard of a further waterfall which they could be swept in from only 14 metres further on.

“Nor, on the balance of probabilities, were they properly supervised whilst in the area at the bottom of the water slide.”

Mr Dorries said the three travellers had done nothing to put their own safety at risk, saying “there is no evidence at all that such was the case”.

He said the tour had been booked with a recognised agency and Miss Anderson was reassured by the booking office that it was not a very adventurous activity.

Mr Dorries said: “I am satisfied that there was a careful and conservative approach by the group to the choice of tour and to their own actions that day.”

The sisters’ parents, David Squire and Tracy Dodd, attended court with their daughter Molly.

Mr Sloan’s parents, Eugene and Lesley, also attended, along with a number of members of their family.

Speaking outside the Medico-Legal Centre in Sheffield, Mr Squire said: “It’s now been confirmed what we, as families, have known all along.

                              Travellers who plunged to deaths in Vietnam waterfall 'not warned of dangers'

Izzy Squire (second left), Beth Anderson (centre) and Molly Anderson Dodd (right) with their parents Tracy Dodd and David Squire

“Christian, Beth and Izzy were completely innocent and lost their lives through no fault of their own.

“Instead, a series of individual failings and persistent breaches of Vietnamese laws and regulations led to our children’s untimely deaths.

“To be clear, the events and circumstances that led to their deaths were wholly preventable.”

Mr Squire said he did not know how the criminal investigation into the deaths was progressing in Vietnam because communication between the Foreign Office and the Vietnamese authorities “leaves a lot to be desired”.

His family had “lived and breathed unimaginable sorrow, pain and heartbreak” in the last “three devastating years”, he said.

Mr Squire added: “Part of our hearts and souls and our very being died with Beth and Izzy on that inexplicably awful February Friday.

“They will be forever just 19 and 24 and forever young.”

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