A student was posing for a photograph on the edge of cliffs at Cuckmere Haven when she misjudged a jump for the camera and fell 200ft, an inquest heard on Thursday (October 12).
Twenty-three-year-old Hyewon Kim, of South Korea, was believed to have become unconscious immediately and death would have been almost instant, according to pathologist Dr Zainab Ali’s report, read at Eastbourne Town Hall.
The court heard the student, who was studying English, asked In Young Choi, also of Korea, to take her photo by the cliff edge.
In a statement the witness said, “She asked for a photo for her. When I was taking it she fell down.”
Another witness, Jin Gyeong Jang, said in a statement, “When I sat down I saw she was standing. After, I heard the sound of a bang. I looked where she was standing and she was not there.”
Six photos were found on Hyewon Kim’s phone showing her in the moments before her death on June 22.
Detective Sergeant Todd Stewart described the photos as showing her ‘extremely close to the edge’. He said, “She was posing about one metre from the edge.
“There were two photos where she had clearly jumped into the air, with her hands outstretched.
“She is even closer to the edge. She was smiling, clearly enjoying her jumping. She was now over the edge.
“The expression on her face is one of enjoyment.”
DS Stewart discussed the issue of people getting too close to the edge with the coroner, Alan Craze.
The sergeant said, “There are clear signs near the edge. The number of people standing close to the edge for photos is amazingly large. People with their feet dangling over the edge for selfies.
“At the time we were having severe risk of cliff falls as well.”
Coroner for East Sussex Alan Craze said of the photo, “She has landed with one foot beyond the cliff edge.
“It must have been the last moment before any realisation of what had happened.
“She was looking away from the cliff edge. Her concentration is not on anything at all but what she is doing.”
He continued, “It’s surprising this doesn’t happen more often. It’s not a situation where obvious solutions present themselves.
“I would support a call for work to be done that can prevent deaths wholeheartedly.
“I know of at least one almost identical death. This is not unique. I think we should be lucky if this is the last one.
“At the end of the day if people place themselves in extreme danger there’s limits to the extent to which they can be stopped.”
Mr Craze concluded Hyewon Kim’s cause of death was misadventure. He asked that his profound sympathies be passed on to her family.