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Accidental death from hypothermia recorded in hearing over Perthshire holiday tragedy

Daily Record logoDaily Record 05/03/2021 Melanie Bonn

A Team GB hill runner who died while on holiday in Highland Perthshire succumbed to hypothermia due to bad weather an inquest in England heard.

Dad-of-two Chris Smith, (43) from Sussex, tragically passed away of hypothermia and exposure.

The tragedy happened at Invervar, a hamlet in Glenlyon, while Mr Smith was running high up on a hill path in October last year.

The hills popular with Munro walker and occasionally runners seen from Invervar where Chris Smith set out from last October © internet grab The hills popular with Munro walker and occasionally runners seen from Invervar where Chris Smith set out from last October

Mr Smith, who represented Team GB in international mountain running events, was “doing everything he could to run back to his family”, the hearing at Crawley coroner’s court, Sussex, was told.

His body was found by two friends of his at Meall Garbh on October 29 after volunteers and professional teams spent almost 48 hours of searching for him.

He is believed to have died when weather conditions deteriorated, despite his meticulous planning.

Despite the bad weather, he attempted to keep running through driving sleet, reduced visibility and a wind chill of -11C.

A post-mortem examination concluded he died of hypothermia.

Assistant coroner for West Sussex, Robert Simpson, found that his death was an accident caused by adverse weather.

Mr Smith’s family released a statement after the inquiry, thanking searchers and volunteers who went to his aid including mountain rescue teams in Tayside and Strathclyde and police in Pitlochry.

“Over the last four months, we have pieced together as much information as possible about Chris’s run that day,” the family said.

“This has helped us hugely and whilst we may never know exactly what happened to Chris, it is clear he was doing everything he could to run back to his family.

“Chris will always be remembered as a fantastic dad, husband, son, brother and uncle. A beacon of energy and love, and an example of a life so very well lived."

Mr Smith, originally from Aberdeen, lived in Haywards Heath with his family, had represented Team GB in international mountain running events. He worked as a civil servant.

A Chris Smith Memorial Fund has been set up in his honour. It has already raised more than £17,000.

The Brighton-based Argus reported that wife Lindsay Smith told the inquest: “He hadn’t taken the route lightly and had fully researched it. I felt he was fully prepared.”

The family had been touring Scotland in October when Mr Smith planned for his run at Invervar.

He set off from their holiday accommodation in Glenlyon at around 2.50pm on October 27, carrying a phone with an OS map.

He told his family he would be back by 5pm.

Mrs Smith called police when she had not heard from her husband by 7.22pm.

Mr Smith was found at about midday on October 29.

He was lying in heather, well off his planned route.

The coroner’s findings stated: “I do find it unlikely he could have survived the night given his location, clothes and equipment he had with him.”

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