Inquest hears how Shropshire teenager died in cave collapse
A 16-year-old Shropshire boy was crushed to death when part of a cave roof collapsed as he slept near a camp fire, an inquest has heard.
Friends of Aiden Brookes told the hearing in Bridgnorth how they battled to revive him following the "deafening" rockfall at a teenagers' party on the outskirts of the town.
But the inquest heard that Aiden died almost instantly from multiple injuries when he was struck by a large sandstone slab at the Hermitage Caves in the early hours of April 6.
The South Shropshire Coroner was told that two of the young people who went to Aiden's aid have been nominated for awards recognising their bravery.
Zakk Griffiths, who is in line for a Royal Humane Society award, told the inquest that he went into the cave with a friend following the collapse.
After helping to remove the sandstone slab from Aiden, he and another youth then lifted the teenager out of the cave before attempting to resuscitate him while paramedics were en route to the scene.
Giving evidence to the inquest at Bridgnorth's Council Chamber, 19-year-old Jessica Wright said she had also been struck by the rockfall.
Recalling the tragedy, which happened at about 2.20am, Miss Wright said: "At the point where the cave collapsed, Aiden was lying in front of the fire. He was smiling and asleep.
"I got up to change the music over when I heard this deafening rumble and I just remember falling face forward."
Philip West, who was also at the caves, said he believed Aiden had collected logs to fuel the camp fire before falling asleep near it.
"We were standing in a circle looking in towards the cave and there was a very loud bang," he said. "As that bang happened, I looked up and saw very large chunks of rock separating themselves from the roof and to the right of the cave."