North West Wales

Marine fell to death during Snowdonia selection exercise

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Media captionAshley Hicks was described as an exceptionally capable and well-motivated soldier

A Royal Marine fell 100ft (30m) to his death while taking part in a special forces selection exercise in Snowdonia, an inquest has heard.

Ashley Hicks, 25, slipped down a gorge in October 2012 as he and his group tried to get to a safe point while being pursued by other soldiers.

The inquest in Caernarfon heard Marine Hicks had warned others to "mind your footing" before he fell.

The group were not aware of the gorge as the scale of map did not show it.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, soldier A, who cannot be named, said the group had limited equipment including a map with little detail.

He said the purpose of the exercise was to test the soldiers' ability to adapt and survive in conditions on the ground.

Soldier A said Marine Hicks, of Solihull, had volunteered to lead the group when they set off after a break at 19:00 BST.

'Acceptable risk'

He described him as an "exceptionally capable, highly motivated individual".

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Image caption The soldiers were near Llyn Trawsfynydd when the incident happened

The group decided to head north and take a more direct route to their safe point in order to improve their chances of avoiding capture, the hearing was told.

They were in an area north of Llyn Trawsfynydd lake, but were unaware there was a nearby gorge because the scale of map did not show it.

Marine Hicks took the lead and stepped over a dry stone wall telling his colleagues "it's getting steep here, so mind your footing".

Seconds later his colleagues heard him slip and fall.

An emergency beacon was set off to highlight their position, while two of the soldiers made their way down the steep gorge to Marine Hicks.

When they reached him he was drifting in and out of consciousness and had a weak pulse.

A few minutes later he stopped breathing and the soldiers carried out cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until a rescue helicopter arrived.

Asked by coroner Nicola Jones if, given the nature of the exercise, the level of risk was acceptable, soldier A replied "Yes".

The hearing continues.

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