Shropshire

Friends who tried to save cave-collapse boy honoured

Aiden Peter Brookes
Image caption Aiden Brookes died in April 2009

Two friends who tried to save the life of another friend after caves they were camping under collapsed have been honoured for their bravery.

Aiden Brookes, 16, from Bridgnorth in Shropshire, died when rocks came loose, most likely from their campfire, at nearby Hermitage Caves in April 2009.

Zakk Griffiths, 20, and Phillip West, 18, were given the award by the Royal Humane Society.

Mr Griffiths said he was proud but sad to receive the award.

He said: "It's an honour to receive it but I am also, at the same time, quite sad to bring up the story that is tied to it.

"It's definitely going on the wall. It will be something to look at and reflect on.

"It's not going to balance out is it? It never could."

At Aiden's inquest, the coroner concluded that it was more likely than not that the fire had acted as a "trigger" for the wedge of rock to fall.

About 20 young people were staying at the caves which were a popular hang out, the hearing was told.

Image caption Mr Griffiths said he was proud but sad to receive the award

After the rocks collapsed, Mr Griffiths went into the cave to remove the sandstone from Aiden and he and another teenager lifted him out to try to resuscitate him.

Another friend was also hit by the rocks.

Pc Philip Nock, who was at the scene, said at the time that everyone who helped had been very brave as the rocky overhang could have collapsed further.

He said at the ceremony on Monday: "Zakk commenced CPR assisted by Philip and they continued resuscitation attempts until [an] ambulance crew arrived to take over.

"Zakk and Philip demonstrated real courage during this tragic incident by first helping to pull Aiden from the collapsing cave and then performing mouth to mouth and other resuscitation in a valiant attempt to save his life.

"They went into the cave to pull out the injured without thought for their own safety and should be very proud of their actions on that devastating day."

The caves, classed as a scheduled ancient monument, had been used for years by young people locally as a place to meet.

But a permanent metal fence has since been erected around them.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded last December.

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