Sheffield sisters died during guided tour to Vietnam waterfalls, inquest hears

Two Sheffield sisters who died after getting into trouble on a waterfall they were taken to as part of a guided tour in Vietnam did their best to ensure the activity would be done ‘properly and safely,” an inquest heard.

Monday, 25th February 2019, 17:15 pm
Updated Monday, 25th February 2019, 17:17 pm
Half-sisters Beth Anderson and Izzy Squire who died in Vietnam on February 26, 2016.

Sisters Izzy Squire, 19, and Beth Anderson, 24, died with Christian Sloan, 24, during a day trip in the Dalanla waterfalls area of Vietnam in February 2016.

Sheffield Coroners’ Court heard how Izzy and Beth, from Endcliffe, had met Christian during their travels, and had decided to meet up with him and his friend, James McGlashon, to do a tour in the Dat Lat region of Vietnam, where they were all staying.

Beth Anderson and Izzy Squire with parents Tracy Dodd and David Squire, the last time they saw each other before the half-sisters died in Vietnam on February 26, 2016.

 A report prepared by Detective Constable, Andrew Stephanek, detailed how Christian researched which tour operators in the area were reputable, and looked at reviews left by other tourists, before the group decided to book a canyon tour with Dam Me Da Lat Co. 

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Senior Coroner, Christopher Dorries, said: “Everything I have read suggests they were doing their best to do it properly and safely’.”

A receptionist for Dam Me Da Lat Co described how one of the females in the group appeared to be ‘scared’ and asked if they could do a tour that was graded as being ‘easy’ by the company.  

The trip was booked a few days in advance, and James, the fourth member of the group, pulled out on the day of the trip on February 26 due to illness. 

Datlana waterfall in the Da Lat region of Vietnam, where half-sisters Beth Anderson and Izzy Squire died on February 26, 2016. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/thalling55

The court heard how all three members of the tour group were fitted with helmets and life jackets. 

When they arrived at the Dalanla waterfalls to use what has been described as ‘a natural water slide’, their tour guide, Dan Van Si, arranged for them to use the water slide ahead of the tour group of eight who were already there. 

Christian, from Kent, went first, followed by Beth and then Izzy. 

Megan Slimm was a member of the tour group who was already at the waterfalls, and in her statement to the court, she described how she saw the three backpackers go down the water slide, before the current moved them to the right-hand side and down the next water slide. 

Mr Dorries told the court: “Megan was the first of her group to go down the water slide. She was told to stay to the left when she got to the bottom, but she wasn’t told why. The current was strong, and was trying to pull her down the next rock slide. 

“She saw Christian going down the next rock slide, and thought it looked cool so wanted to follow him. She asked her tour guide, Mr Tri, if she could go down the next water slide and he said: ‘No, very dangerous, big waterfall’.”

Megan and other members of her group helped to raise the alarm about the other three tourists going down the next rock slide.

The trio’s helmets, life jackets and shoes were found in water surrounding a nearby waterfall, and their bodies were found in the same pool a short time later. 

Several witnesses described the current as being ‘very strong’ on the day of the fatal incident.

In statements given to the court, Mr Si claims to have told the group to stay to the left once they were at the bottom of the rock slide, and shouted the same instruction down to Christian and Beth but they ‘did not listen’. 

Mr Si says he allowed Izzy to use the rock slide, despite the first two not following his instructions. 

DC Stephanek noted that ‘not a single person’ heard Mr Si shouting for the group to keep to the left.

The detective said there were a number of other ‘inconsistencies’ in Mr Si’s statements. 

In his first statement, Mr Si claimed he did not know whether it was ‘forbidden’ for groups to use to the water slide, but said in a subsequent statement that a trip to the water slide was part of the route mapped out by his company.  

Christian’s sister, Katie, described her brother as someone who was afraid of heights, and was ‘very safety-conscious’. 

“I believe if he had known the waterfall was the other side, he wouldn’t have got into the water that day,” she said. 

Mr Dorries adjourned the inquest until March 19, to consider his conclusion.