(NORTH LONDON PRESS) – The aunt of Hannah Defoe had to be rushed to hospital after suffering a series of electric shocks when she leapt into a swimming pool in a bid to save her niece, an inquest heard yesterday.
Student Hannah Defoe, 20, of Winchmore Hill, died on the second day of a holiday to the paradise island of St Lucia after jumping into a hotel swimming pool that had a live electric current surging through it.
Giving evidence via a video link at West London Coroner’s Court in Bagleys Lane, Fulham, to the inquest in Vieux Fort, St Lucia, Hannah’s aunt, Janet Defoe, who had travelled to the island with her, told Magistrate Robert Innocent of her desperate bids to rescue her niece.
She told the inquest she had arrived on the island on July 24, the day before Hannah’s death, and was staying in Juliette’s Lodge Hotel, in Vieux Fort, in the South of the island with Hannah and her 17-year-old daughter.
Reading from the witness statement she had made in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy Ms Defoe said that when a family friend rushed to find her and told her that Hannah was in the swimming pool she ran outside.
“I ran to the pool and when I got there I saw Hannah’s body stretched out at the bottom of the pool. I jumped into the pool to rescue her.
As soon as I jumped in I felt a fuzzy feeling over my whole body,” she told Magistrate Innocent.
She explained that she was able to reach a hand out of the water and someone pulled her from the pool.
“I saw a metal pole on the floor. I took the pole and tried to move her. But when I put the pole inside the pool I got an electric shock.
When I put my hand into the water I also got a shock,” she added.
Continuing to read from her statement she said that she could not remember who had called the ambulance, but did remember she was transported to hospital alongside a man who had also tried to rescue her niece, but who had also been electrocuted in the attempt.
Hannah’s mother Hope Defoe gave evidence via videolink this afternoon.
Although she was not on the island at the time of her daughter’s death, the St Lucian inquest requested she read out the witness statement she had given when she arrived on the island in the days after her daughter’s death.
Overcome with emotion at the memory Mrs Defoe wept as she read from her statement.
“I identified the dead body of my daughter,” she said.
The inquest in St Lucia has been beset by delays since it was convened earlier this year.
However, Hope and Janet were the last witnesses to give evidence to the inquest and it is expected to conclude with the month.