Inquest rules death of event rider Emma Jonathan as accidental

  • A 23-year-old eventer’s death was an accident Gloucestershire coroner Alan Crickmore has ruled, but he is writing to British Eventing (BE) to call for the sport to be made safer.

    An inquest on Friday, 27 March, at Gloucester Coroner’s Court, heard how Emma Jonathan died in a freak accident, suffering massive internal injuries when her horse fell on her and crushed her chest.

    Miss Jonathan was competing in the CCI** at Hartpury Horse Trials on 8 August 2008 when she had the fatal rotational fall from mare El Nino at fence 19.

    The horse, which Miss Jonathan bought as a novice in 2004, was unharmed.

    She had ridden El Nino since the start of the mare’s affiliated eventing career in 2005 and the pair were competing in their first CCI**. They had had top 10 placings at intermediate and novice level that year and in 2007.

    Miss Jonathan, from Petersfield in Hampshire had recently graduated from University of East Anglia with a 2.1 in history of art.

    Fence judge Elizabeth Hill assisted Miss Jonathon after he fall, she told the inquest: “[As they came up to the jump] Emma looked comfortable and in control and they looked like a real partnership.

    “I told her to stay still and that help was coming. I could see blood coming from her mouth,” she said.

    “There was no obvious reason through Emma’s riding, the structure of the fence or the weather condition, for this to have happened.

    “Emma was using her judgement, she was riding well and she came at the jump at exactly the right pace.”

    Emergency resuscitation took place for 30mins.

    The court also heard evidence from course builder Andrew Campbell Hunter who had re-installed the frangible pins at jump 19 shortly before the fall. A subsequent inspection had ruled them sound.

    An accident investigator employed by BE said there was a 30 per cent chance that a rider would suffer serious injury or death after a somersault fall.

    In response to this, the coroner called for increased safety measures in the sport said he would be writing to BE over concerns about the dangers of eventing.

    A British Eventing spokesman told H&H “Her loss was a tragic accident, and our thoughts are with her family at this time.

    “Emma was a talented young rider and had formed a great partnership with her horse, El Nino, bringing her up through the grades from intro in 2005 right up to two-star level.”

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