Student fell from Seven Sisters cliff edge while jumping into air for photo

Telegraph Reporters
Student Hyewon Kim - Enterprise News and Pictures

A student fell to her death after jumping in the air to pose for a photo at the edge of the Seven Sisters cliffs, an inquest heard.

Hyewon Kim, 23, had asked a passerby to take a picture of her during a trip to Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex, on June 22.

As she jumped into the air for the shot, she lost her footing and fell 200ft, the inquest was told.

Eastbourne senior coroner Alan Craze recorded a conclusion of death by misadventure.

The court heard Ms Kim, from South Korea, suffered catastrophic injuries in the fall. The day before the incident, there had been a severe rock fall at the same location.

The inquest at Eastbourne Town Hall heard Miss Kim had handed her mobile phone to a group of three other South Korean tourists who she did not know and asked them to take her picture at the cliff edge.

Tourists take pictures close to the cliff edge of the Seven Sisters in East Sussex. File picture Credit: Peter Cripps/LNP

Det Sgt Tod Stewart, from Sussex Police CID, said: "Witnesses said the female was standing on the edge having photographs taken when she fell.

"The three females were taken to the police interview room at Newhaven where they met staff from the Korean embassy who helped with taking statements.

"They confirmed they were taking photos and that they did not know her."

There were six photos of her standing extremely close to the cliffs... her face shows nothing but enjoyment

Det Sgt Tod Stewart

The detective said police were able to access her locked iPhone when they connected it to a laptop found in her bag at the top of the cliffs.

Mr Stewart added: "There were six photos of her standing extremely close to the cliffs. They were showing her jumping in the air extremely close to the edge.

"Her concentration is not on anything other than what she is doing. The expression on her face shows nothing but enjoyment."

Rock falls are common at the Seven Sisters cliffs in East Sussex Credit: Christopher Pledger for the Telegraph

Statements from the three other South Korean students were read at the inquest.

In Young Choi, 24, said: "I went to the Seven Sisters for tourism. Another Korean girl, who I did not know, was there and she asked me to take photos.

"As I was taking photos, she fell down. We all tried to find someone to call 999. After 999 call, I call Korean Embassy."

Jin Gyeong Jang said: "I saw her standing then heard sound of a bang, then she was not there. At the space where was was standing, there was a bag."

A post-mortem examination concluded Miss Kim died from catastrophic head injuries.

Mr Craze said: "This is a very poignant and sad case. I want to express my profound sympathy and condolences to her family."

The coroner said he would welcome further research into methods of preventing further deaths at the cliffs.

"This death is not unique," he added. "Very sadly, whatever is done by way of signage, we should be lucky if this is the last one."

Mr Craze said he would encourage the National Trust to look into improved signage and fencing along the Seven Sisters.