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Teenage girl killed on camping trip by barbecue fumes in tent
4:45pm Thursday 17th January 2013 in News
A teenage girl was killed by fumes from a barbecue placed inside a tent to keep her warm during a family camping trip, an inquest has heard.
Hannah Thomas-Jones, 14, succumbed to the “silent killer'' of carbon monoxide poisoning after gases from the barbecue collected in the area where she was sleeping in Shropshire.
The tragedy has been revealed months after a similar case in the New Forest.
Coroners in Bournemouth heard in July last year that the parents of six-year-old Isabelle Harris took a charcoal-burning barbecue into their tent at Holmsley campsite to keep their daughter warm – but she died from inhaling the fumes.
In the latest incident Hannah, from Handforth, near Wilmslow, Cheshire, was pronounced dead in May last year after paramedics were called to a campsite in Bucknell, south Shropshire.
Three other family members, including Hannah's mother and stepfather, were treated in hospital for the effects of carbon monoxide produced by the embers of the bucket-type barbecue.
The inquest in Wem, Shropshire, heard that family members took precautions to guard against an accidental fire when they moved the barbecue into the porch of the tent, but were unaware of the dangers of carbon monoxide.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner John Ellery told members of Hannah's family: “It's quite clear that you and many, many people were unaware of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“The risk you were addressing when you brought that barbecue in, in its dying embers, was against fire.
“That was a risk you acted against, but sadly what was happening was that carbon monoxide was coming from those embers.
“I accept that those vapours went to the top of the tent and probably found their way down to the far end, where tragically Hannah's head was.
“That may well be the explanation why it was she who was so tragically affected.''
Hannah's mother, Danielle Jones, frequently wiped away tears as she told the inquest how paramedics informed her that her daughter could not be revived on the morning of Sunday, May 6.
Mrs Jones, who paid tribute to Hannah as a “beautiful and wonderful'' person, said several members of her extended family were staying at the Baron of Beef campsite, where they watched the FA Cup Final in a pub on the evening before the tragedy.
After the football match had finished, the family had used the blue Tesco barbecue, which had three metal legs, to keep warm underneath a gazebo.
But after Hannah went to bed at about 10pm, the barbecue was moved into the porch of the tent she was sleeping in.
Mrs Jones, who said it was a cold night, told the coroner: “We decided to take the barbecue into the porch area of the tent.
“We took the lid off the cooker.
“We made sure that effectively it was fire-proof - that if anything fell out it wouldn't catch fire.
“Obviously, we didn't understand the dangers of the carbon monoxide.''
When she awoke the next morning, Mrs Jones' arms and legs felt sore and she could not talk.
“Then I remember a lot of shouting - I remember both the sides of the tent being opened,'' she said.
“I just couldn't do anything, I couldn't breathe.''
Warning against using barbecues inside a building, tent or any other structure, station manager Shaun Baker of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service told the coroner: “People are aware of the fire risk, but not aware of the gas risk, the silent killer.
“There is a definite need to warn people.''