Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Coroner's Safety Call Is Backed by Widow; Fisherman Was Killed in Cliff Collapse

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Coroner's Safety Call Is Backed by Widow; Fisherman Was Killed in Cliff Collapse

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Black

THE GRIEVING widow of a fisherman who was killed when a seaside cliff collapsed underneath him has backed a coroner's calls for improved safety at the site.

Father-of-two Jeff Nixon, 49, plunged 50ft to the beach below and was crushed to death by about 20 tonnes of boulders, rubble and earth when the clifftop he was standing on suddenly gave way.

Mr Nixon was fishing just 30 metres away from another angler when the tragedy happened at Sandy Bay near Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, on a snowy and freezing evening last January. Fellow fisherman Graham Turner heard a loud bang "like an explosion", saw a splash of water come over the clifftop and realised that Mr Nixon had disappeared into the darkness.

He shone his torch over the cliff edge, but could only see Mr Nixon's fishing box, before alerting the emergency services and sparking a massive 999 operation.

Yesterday an inquest into the death of Mr Nixon, a pipe fitter who lived with his wife Hazel, 47, and children Rhys, 18, and Jodie, 17, in Dene View, Ashington, heard that the cliff face at Sandy Bay had been eroded by the sea over many years.

In 2007, after the erosion led to sections of the clifftop path disappearing, Northumberland County Council put up signs warning people of the hazards posed by the crumbling cliffs, and that they used the path at their own risk. But during the inquest into Mr Nixon's death, north Northumberland coroner Tony Brown called on the council to examine whether enhanced warnings or physical engineering work - such as blasting away dangerous parts of the cliff face - were worth considering for the future.

Following the Ashington hearing, Mrs Nixon, a store assistant, said she supported the coroner's call for better warning signs along the clifftop.

She said: "I believe more could be done in the way of signs, because the ones that are there now are not very good. …

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