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Elderly woman falls into stream and drowns

What Happened
Person overboard/swept away/fell in the water
What Caused
Adverse environmental conditions
Casualty type/Qty
Causal Factors
Inadequate maintenance
Injury Details
Accident suspected

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Description of Incident
Poor lighting at a caravan park in Northern Ireland may have caused an elderly woman to fall into a stream and drown, an inquest has heard.

Mary Elizabeth Jackson, 69, drowned in waist-high water in the Clogher Valley caravan park in April 2005, despite frantic attempts to resuscitate her after falling off a bridge.

Senior Coroner John Leckey, said: "Mrs Jackson`s death highlighted concerns about lighting at the site.

"I would have thought that people could be up and about a caravan site any hour of the day or night and you must be able to move around safely," he said.

"The responsibility must rest on the (Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough) Council to ensure that the level of lighting meets with the regulations."

Mrs Jackson was returning from the site bathroom with her husband James when she fell in. He only noticed her disappearance after returning to their caravan.

The inquest was held today at Enniskillen court house and speaking afterwards Mrs Jackson`s daughter-in-law Elizabeth Jackson said the loss of the mother-of-two had been painful for all the family.

"She was very good to her family and children. She leaves an 82-year-old husband who is devastated," she said.

Her husband James Jackson said that when he returned to look for his wife he saw her white coat floating in the river and immediately raised the alarm.

The owner of the site, Sidney Somerville and another neighbour lifted the victim from the river where she was lying face down. She was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but failed to recover.

A pathologist found that she may have sustained a head injury when she fell on the bridge which would have reduced her chances of surviving the cold water.

Mrs Jackson also suffered broken ribs.

The site owner Mr Somerville said low level lighting was in place at the time of the accident. He added that the park had been open for many years before without incident.

A risk assessment was carried out after the accident and the height of the wall along the bridge was raised.

The coroner found the cause of death to be drowning.

He added that he would write to Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council about the lighting issue and ordered police to do the same.
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