Husband, 25, dies after tree collapses while putting up hammock for his wife

A businessman was crushed to death by a rotten tree after it catapulted out of the ground while he was setting up a hammock-style tent in a wood, an inquest heard.

Ryan O'Carroll, 25, died of massive head injuries when the 20ft ash tree fell directly on top of him.

The coroner heard he had put up his aerial tent 4ft higher than the manufacturer's recommendations.

This caused the tree to uproot while his wife and 11 year old brother were inside.

The inquest was told business owner Ryan, his wife Stephanee Leal-Sanchez and his 11-year-old brother Nick travelled to Cornwall from Southampton on August 10 last year for a surfing holiday.

They had planned to attend the nearby Boardmasters Festival in Newquay.

The jury was told they arrived at East Lodge car park at Tehidy Country Park at around 11pm and decided to suspend a tree tent between three trees just off a footpath.

Using only the light of a phone torch, Ryan attached the tent. His wife said he pulled at the corners to ensure it was secure and "sturdy".

Nick got in it, followed by recruitment consultant Stephanie.

But as she was halfway in, being supported by Ryan, she remembers falling to the ground and being knocked unconscious.

Nick ran for help and got the attention of Natalie Jupp who was driving from Hayle in Cornwall, with her son Daniel, 19, daughter Amelia, 12, and youngest son Marley, 6.

The family drove past and noticed a flashing light.

She stopped the car, Daniel got out and started shouting: "Mum help me now, it's a little boy."

Daniel picked the boy up while Natalie drove into the car park. She could hear Daniel shouting and a woman screaming.

She told her younger children to stay in the car as Daniel told her: "Mum, it's a tree. You need to help get it off him."

She says she saw Ryan lying on the floor with the tree covering his body and face.

She rang 999 and said the fire brigade would also be needed to lift the tree.

Natalie said she noticed the tent had been attached to three trees in a triangular fashion by ratchet ties at around 9ft high.

When one of Daniel's friends, Timmy Kneebone arrived to help, they were able to lift the tree off Ryan.

Natalie said he was unresponsive and there was no pulse. She carried out CPR and helped paramedics when they arrived, until they found a heartbeat.

Ryan was taken to Treliske before being transferred to the major trauma unit at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth but died on August 12.

The causes of death were given as multiple organ failure, cardiac arrest and dramatic brain injury. The inquest heard Ryan's injuries were unsurvivable.

A jury inquest had to take place under law because a government agency, in this case Cornwall Council, had investigated the incident.

Sean Oates, the investigating team's manager, told the inquest that public camping wasn't permitted at Tehidy and there were notices saying as much in the car park.

The 30-year-old ash tree was not recorded as a hazard.

Two countryside officers, who covered Tehidy, were aware the tree had been dead for at least three growing seasons but it was deemed a low risk and not a subsequent danger.

The Forestry Commission advises that all dead trees not seen as a risk should be allowed to stand. This assessment had not considered anyone erecting an aerial tent on the tree.

The tent's ratchet straps put pressure on the leverage of the rotten tree.

The inquest heard that there was nothing wrong with the tent, which was made by Tentsile Tree Tents and Hammocks.

The jury recorded a verdict of accidental death. No family attended the inquest.

Ian Arrow, senior coroner for Plymouth, said: "I'd like to pay tribute to members of the Jupp family who assisted on the night. It must have been very stressful for them.

"It must have been a terrible shock to Ryan's family and I send them my condolences."

Ryan was a director and co-founder of award-winning firm Yo Telecom.

Shortly after his death his wife Stephanee paid tribute and said: "You changed my life, I became a better person because of you, you loved me unconditionally and you inspired me everyday."

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