A grief-stricken mother told yesterday how her “happy, loving” husband plunged 100ft off a cliff after the family group stopped to take holiday snaps of the Cornish coast.
Engineer Harry McCabe, 54, lost his footing as he strolled above Mullion Cove with his wife Samantha, 12-year-old daughter Faye and her friend Emily.
Mrs McCabe told an inquest yesterday that she had stopped to take pictures of the breathtaking coastal view on her iPhone. But when Mr McCabe left her to go for a walk with the two girls they soon came racing back to say they had lost sight of him.
Mrs McCabe said she saw several rocks tumbling down the cliff-face before looking down to see her husband slumped 100ft below on a rocky ledge.
Falmouth Coastguard scrambled a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose and Mr McCabe was airlifted to the nearby Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro where he was pronounced dead.
Mrs McCabe, a therapist from of Basingstoke, said: “The girls came towards me and were shouting for help.
“I called out Harry’s name and then the girls went towards the car park to look back over the cliff edge.
“Faye said she could see his jumper at the bottom, I was worried and went to look for myself but I said ‘no, that can’t be him’. Upon reaching the car park I could see something that had the same clothing as him. I realised it was Harry at the bottom of the ledge.”
The family had just arrived at the Mullion Holiday Park when the tragedy unfolded at around 6.40pm on May 4 last year – three days after Mr McCabe’s birthday.
The inquest in Truro heard Mr McCabe had previously played a trick on his family by hiding along a cliff face and pretending he had fallen. But there was no evidence to confirm he was trying to repeat the prank when he slipped. There was no fence, warning signs or safety barriers at the spot where he fell.
He was one of 23 fatalities in a year along the Cornish coastline – but Mrs McCabe insisted her husband’s death was “just a tragic accident”.
She added, through tears: “He loved looking at the cove and looking at the shoreline.
“I just wish I could have been there to stop it. I would have done anything to have him with us.
“We were so happy. We were really happy. He loved life. He loved his family, his girls, his grandchildren.”
Coastguards said the wet weather might have contributed to Mr McCabe’s death.
Coroner, Dr Elizabeth Carlyon, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said: “I accept that there was no evidence of any third party involvement or that this was an intentional death. Mr McCabe had been walking along the coastal footpath from Mullion Cove Hotel car park to a viewing point while on holiday with his family. He went to look around and did not return. He would have fallen or tumbled to get to the point he was found.”