Student fell to death jumping for photo on crumbling cliff edge
A STUDENT plunged 200ft to her death after jumping in the air for a photograph on a crumbling clifftop, an inquest was told.
Hyewon Kim, 23, had asked a stranger to take her picture but lost her footing as she landed and toppled over the Seven Sisters cliffs in East Sussex.
The South Korean, who had come to Britain to improve her English, suffered catastrophic head injuries in the fall. Her mobile phone was later found at the top of the beauty spot. Detective Sergeant Tod Stewart from Sussex police told the inquest in Eastbourne: ‘There were six photos of her close to the cliffs. They were showing her jumping in the air extremely close to the edge.
‘Her concentration is not on anything other than what she is doing. The expression on her face shows nothing but enjoyment.’
Coroner Alan Craze said: ‘She landed with one foot beyond the cliff edge and only her other foot landing on the cliff edge. Every one of the photos shows her looking away from the cliff edge. A lot of South East Asians like to visit because the Seven Sisters refer to the seven daughters of the Chinese deity, the Jade Emperor.
‘If people do things which put them in extreme and obvious danger, there is a limit to which they can be stopped.’
A statement by witness Young Choi, 24, said: ‘I went to the Seven Sisters for tourism. Another Korean girl, who I did not know, was there and she asked me to take photos. ‘As I was taking photos, she fell down. We all tried to find someone to call 999. After the 999 call, I called the Korean Embassy.’ Jin Gyeong Jang, another witness, said: ‘I saw her standing then heard sound of a bang, then she was not there. At the space where she was standing, there was just a bag.’
Fireman Richard Harrison revealed what he saw when he attended the scene. He said: ‘We discovered the body of a young female, face down. I estimated the cliffs to be between 150 to 200ft high.’
A post-mortem examination concluded that Miss Kim died from catastrophic head injuries on June 22.
The death came a day after a major rock fall further along the Sussex coast.
Mr Craze said: ‘This is a very poignant and sad case. I want to express my profound sympathy and condolences to her family.’ No family members or embassy staff attended the inquest.
The coroner said he would welcome further research into methods of preventing further deaths at the tourist spot.
Recording a verdict of misadventure, Mr Craze said: ‘This death is not unique.
‘Very sadly, whatever is done by way of signage, we should be lucky if this is the last one.’
He said he would encourage the National Trust, who own the stretch of cliffs, to look into improved warnings and fencing along the edge.
‘A very poignant and sad case’
Dangerous: The Seven Sisters cliffs in East Sussex