Death of man killed by elephant was 'one-in-a-million chance'

Colin Manvell

Colin Manvell

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author © by

A retired teacher died in a ''one-in-a-million'' accident after he was trampled by an elephant as he pursued his love of photography during a holiday in India, an inquest has heard.

Colin Manvell, of Havant, died at the Masinagudi National Park in the state of Tamil Nadu on September 19 last year.

His nephew, Roger Manvell, said that his uncle died ''doing something that he loved''.

The inquest at Portsmouth heard that the 67-year-old had travelled on the latest of several trips to visit local friends in the area of southern India to go on safari with his ultimate aim of seeing a tiger.

David Horsley, coroner for Portsmouth and South East Hampshire, said that it was believed that Mr Manvell was alone when he was trampled by the elephant.

He said that he had received very little information from the Indian authorities about the incident and the only report sent to him had been photocopied badly and was incomplete.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Horsley said: ''We do not know any more than an elephant must have come out of the undergrowth making trumpeting sounds and he was in its way. I have no more information than that.''

He added: ''He has been out on holiday photographing wildlife, in not necessarily a remote area because there was a hospital, but he has been out in an area where there are wild animals and unfortunately he has been in the way of a stampeding elephant.

''It is the first time I have encountered anything like this as a coroner, he was clearly out in India doing what he loved. It was maybe the way he would have wanted to go.''

Mr Manvell, a tennis coach from Hill Head, said that the family did not have any more information about how his uncle died.

The 48-year-old said that his uncle had been a frequent visitor to India and would stay with local friends he had made there.

He said: ''He had always travelled a lot ever since I can remember. I think he had been there a week or so before he had died.

''On the last number of occasions he had been (in India), he always goes out with some friends on what we would call a safari.

''He's very keen on his photography, particularly birds, flowers, he was always on the pretence of looking for a tiger, always intent on tracking or seeing a tiger in the wild but every time he came back he was a bit closer to seeing one but he never got to see a tiger.

''He was very happy taking photographs of everything.

''He was not a thrill-seeker or anything, just enjoyed seeing the culture out there and spending time with friends he met there.''

Speaking of the incident, he added: ''I would assume that he was taking some photos of some wild birds by a water hole, it sounds like he was on his own because if there had been someone else there this might not have happened.''

Mr Manvell said that his uncle appeared to have good eyesight and hearing, contradicting reports following his death that he had difficulty with his hearing.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Manvell and his sister Karen Clark, 46, said that his death had been a ''one-in-a-million'' accident.

Mr Manvell said: ''We have known our uncle Colin all our lives and we have always known him as a traveller who gave his time generously to his school and tennis clubs and all his other friends and family.

''When I heard last September it was a big shock to us and the family. He was always a very keen traveller and died doing something he loved and we still have his photographs from his travels which we will hold very dear to us.

''It was quite unbelievable when it happened at the time, it's a one-in-a-million.''

He said that the lack of information from India was understandable and added: ''The Foreign Office were very good at the time, they helped us out with the repatriation.

''The details they got were sketchy, unless we actually speak to his friends out in India face-to-face, it's very difficult.''

Mr Manvell was a retired geography teacher at Warblington School, Havant, and he also worked at the Avenue Tennis and Squash Club in the town.

Mr Manvell joined Warblington School in 1988 and retired 10 years later.

Headteacher Julia Vincent said: ''Mr Manvell retired from head of geography at Warblington School a number of years ago.

''Although I did not know him personally, he was well-known to the school community and has kindly donated a trophy for academic achievement in geography.

''We were saddened to hear of this tragic accident and our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family at this sad time.''

Paula Fuge, personnel manager for Portsmouth Tennis Academy , who knew Mr Manvell through the local tennis scene, said: ''He was a lovely guy.''

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