St. John’s Antigua- A British holidaymaker found dead on an Antiguan beach in January drowned after becoming trapped in sinking sand, an inquest heard.
Mother-of-two Nicola Raybone was visiting the island along with friends and relatives for her father’s wedding being held the next day at the Jolly Beach resort.
It is thought that the 33-year-old, from Lancashire, England, wandered onto the beach to watch the sunset when she ran into difficulty within hours of arriving on vacation.
She remained trapped in the sinking sand as the tide came in and enveloped her, the inquest – which recorded a verdict of accidental death – was told on Thursday.
A search party found her sandals and cell phone left at a bar.
Coroner Anne Hind was told at the Blackpool, UK, hearing that Nicola’s screams for help could be heard but nightfall fell suddenly and it was too dark to see her.
When she was eventually discovered an hour after her family and hotel staff launched a hunt, the nursery nurse was already dead.
The inquest heard that the tide that night was “very rough and high”.
“It was easy to sink deep into the sand. The beach sloped and it became pitch black,” Mrs Hind said.
“You can imagine how frightened she was. Having arrived on holiday everyone was happy about the forthcoming marriage.
“She just took a stroll along the beach and got into difficulties in very deep sand….quicksand. It is frightening how quickly it all happened.”
A statement from Ms Raybone’s family described relatives as “shocked and devastated”.
Among the holiday party were Ms Raybone’s children, Amy, 11, and 13-year-old Dylan.
Deaths after becoming trapped in sand in Antigua are extremely rare.
A statement from Jolly Beach resort said staff and management were still “deeply saddened” by Ms Raybone’s death.
“Despite this tragic accident, the public beach our resort shares with other hotels is one of the safest in Antigua, and no report of quicksand has ever been recorded,” it continued.
“Both the examination conducted by Antigua’s government pathologist Dr Lester Simon and the results of the private inquest conducted by Mrs Hind concluded a verdict of accidental death due to drowning.
“Ms Raybone, along with her family and friends, will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers,” the statement added.