Accidental death verdict for Hertfordshire scientist

A PROMISING young scientist from Codicote died in a freak accident on an African island, a coroner has ruled.

Last Thursday an inquest heard how Nicholas Paige and a French colleague were killed instantly when a cliff unexpectedly collapsed on partygoers in Madagascar.

The research scientist was enjoying a camp fire under an overhanging cliff on Coco Beach, in the fishing village of Andavadoaka on October 13.

Coroner Edward Thomas said at 11pm the cliff suddenly gave way with “heavy boulders and a tree” falling into the party.

He added: “This extinguished the fire resulting in deep darkness, therefore it was difficult to assess the situation quickly.”


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Mobile phones and torches were used to search for survivors while other staff made a dash for help.

It was not until 15 minutes after the cliff fell that the 24-year-old was found.

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Mr Thomas said: “They were then able to locate Nicholas and he was trapped by fallen rock and sand.

“There were no signs of life, it was clear that his airways had been obstructed for at least 15 minutes.”

The next day the beach area was examined and “the consensus was that there had been no sign of danger from the rock face or cliff when they went to the beach”.

He added: “Weather had been good, no unusual rain or wind… the height of the fire would not have caused the rock fall because local temperature are very high and therefore it was difficult to speculate as to what the cause of the rock fall was.”

Mr Thomas read a report from a pathologist and said: “He gave the cause of death as haemothorax due to external traumatic injuries, it was clear from reading his report that death would have been instant.”

Mr Paige’s death was recorded as accidental.

His mother Sue, who now lives in Suffolk, said their closure was scattering his ashes in Codicote last Saturday.

She said: “We all miss him very much but he was doing what he loved and he was in the warmth – he loved the sun and sea.

“It was a freak accident, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, no–one can foresee that and there is no blame to it.”

Mr Paige’s family have donated money to the Blue Ventures’ school scholarship fund in his memory which pays for children’s tuition in Madagascar.

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