Pensioner died after accident during Clevedon raft race
A PENSIONER died after hitting her head as she fell into the water at a charity raft race.
Jane Newport, 66, was taking part in last September's Clevedon Raft Race with friend Christine Harris when she fell from her raft trying to get on board and struck her head.
Mrs Newport, of Clevedon Road, Weston-super-Mare, received no medical attention but her daughter Leiza Alpass raised the alarm when her mum failed to meet her in Bristol.
The community centre owner was found dead at her home three days later by former partner Andrew Simms.
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A coroner yesterday ruled that her death was accidental.
A statement from Mrs Harris read to Flax Bourton Coroner's Court said Mrs Newport was a close friend, whom she knew as 'Coco'.
Describing the day of the accident Mrs Harris said that on September 16 she and Mrs Newport dressed up as the Owl and the Pussycat for the Clevedon Raft Race.
"The water was about 4ft deep," Mrs Harris said. "Coco said she would get on first. She immediately disappeared sideways into the water.
"She emerged from the water fairly quickly and was laughing a lot. One of the group asked her at least five times if she was all right and at no point did she say she had banged her head.
"We then meandered onto the lake. She said her head felt cold. I asked if she wanted to stop and she said no, she would not. When we were on the lake she appeared lucid and coherent and her actions were coordinated."
Mrs Harris said Mrs Newport complained of a headache later but appeared normal "in all other respects".
"I phoned her the next day and we had a good laugh about the raft race but she mentioned she still had a headache," Mrs Harris said.
Mrs Newport later sent a text message to her friend but when Mrs Harris phoned her on September 18, she was unable to get a reply.
Andrew Simms, Mrs Newport's former partner, said he had gone to her house on September 19 following a call from her daughter, who could not contact her. He obtained a key from a neighbour and found Mrs Newport's body inside.
A report from consultant pathologist Dr Tim Moss said the cause of death was a head injury consistent with a recent blow to the back of the head.
Assistant deputy coroner Terence Moore said: "The postmortem showed no natural diseases but did reveal a head injury consistent with her death."