Teacher’s death ruled an accident
PUBLISHED: 12:55 19 July 2011 | UPDATED: 12:59 19 July 2011
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Honiton Community College teacher died after freak accident.
A former Honiton Community College teacher’s death following a fall on the ski slopes of Austria was accidental, an inquest has heard.
Mother-of-two Carol Tolson, 55, suffered a severe head injury after falling on the slopes of Obergurgl while on a family skiing holiday in February.
The hearing, held in Windsor, Berkshire, heard Mrs Tolson died following the freak accident despite taking every precaution on the slopes, and wearing a safety helmet.
A post-mortem examination conducted in Austria concluded that she died as a result of a traumatic brain injury.
Berkshire deputy coroner Ravi Sidhu recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Reaching his verdict, his said: “I am completely satisfied that this was an unintended act that had unintended consequences.”
The inquest was told Mrs Tolson, a keen member the Lympstone Players, originally believed she had broken her nose after tumbling in snow and hitting her head.
Shortly after complaining of a severe headache, she collapsed in the snow in front of her High Court judge husband, Robin.
Mrs Tolson, who never regained consciousness, underwent emergency surgery to combat bleeding on the brain and died seven days later in hospital.
Her QC husband, Robin, also from Lympstone, told the inquest his wife of 23 years was a ‘competent’ skiier.
He said the run where the tragedy had occurred had been ‘perfectly ordinary’.
Judge Tolson said: “She was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident and I don’t think that there is any more that she could have done or that the emergency services could have done.
“She first complained that she had broken her nose, though it later transpired she hadn’t. She then said her head hurt a lot.”
The inquest heard how Mrs Tolson, a former Honiton Community College music teacher who was herself an accomplished musician, had been enjoying a week-long holiday skiing in Hochgurgl, Austria, with her husband and their youngest daughter Alice, then aged 17.
The court was told the freak accident happened on February 23 as the family visited the neighbouring resort of Obergurgl.
Judge Tolson was a few yards behind his wife when he saw her fall approximately 400 metres from the end of the run.
He called the emergency services after Mrs Tolson sank back in the snow.
Paramedics and doctors treated Mrs Tolson on the piste for almost an hour.
She lost consciousness shortly before being airlifted to Innsbruck Hospital.
The inquest heard Mrs Tolson underwent emergency neuro-surgery on a bleed on her brain soon after arriving at hospital and the initial prognosis was positive.
Never regaining consciousness, she died on March 2 when her condition deteriorated.
Judge Tolson is a leading children and families law expert who appeared in a 2005 Channel 4 drama-documentary on embryology.
Speaking after the inquest, he said: “I would just like to say how very much we all miss Carol, especially her two daughters, Lizzie and Alice.”
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