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Tragic death of university field trip student at Dale

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West Dale Beach

West Dale Beach

AN INQUEST into the death of a 20-year-old man was held at Milford Haven Town Hall yesterday (Oct 27).

James Thomas Manto, of London, died on May 7 this year; he had been part of a university field trip to Pembrokeshire with Plymouth University. Family members were present at the inquest.

Mr Manto had been staying at Dale Fort; he was found face down and unresponsive on Dale Beach.

In his second year of a geology course, Mr Manto was described as having ‘no concerns and was looking forward to the future’. His mother had been in contact with him on social media while he was in Pembrokeshire; he had told her how he was ‘really enjoying the field trip’.

The night prior to Mr Manto’s death (May 6) marked the final night of the field trip – students and lecturers had arranged to go into the village of Dale for food and drinks.

Statements read by students and lecturers recalled that Mr Manto was ‘highly intoxicated’ on the night leading up to his death the following morning. Members of staff at The Griffin Inn had asked Mr Manto to leave the premises.

Mr Manto was last seen standing outside The Griffin Inn at around 2am (May 7).

By 8.30am that morning, lecturers informed staff at Dale Fort that they had a student missing; the police were also informed.

A search party was launched by police, with the help of RNLI lifeboats and a helicopter search party.
Mr Manto was found by members of the RNLI, with police reporting they had located a missing body at around 11.15am; Mr Manto had suffered severe lacerations.

RNLI crew members attempted to resuscitate Mr Manto for 20 minutes. This was followed by the arrival of a Coastguard vessel carrying a defibrillator, after which crew members attempted a further 10 minutes of CPR. The inquest also heard how ‘attempts were made to inject adrenaline into his groin’.

An Air Ambulance was also called to the scene. A statement by winch man and paramedic Austin Harley was read during the inquest.

Mr Harley recalled how he and other crew members had been ‘instructed to respond’ to the incident following a training exercise; little information had been given other than ‘male with head injury’.

When Mr Harley arrived at the scene, he recalled how several emergency services were already present.

An ambulance had been waiting on the shoreline; however, Mr Harley made the decision that Mr Manto needed to be airlifted to hospital.

He recalled: “On three occasions we were instructed to shock the patient, which we did.”

Mr Manto was later pronounced dead in hospital.

The post mortem report was also read during the inquest, described by Coroner Gareth Lewis as ‘difficult reading’, and therefore only provided relevant details of the report.

The post mortem labelled Mr Manto’s death as ‘unnatural’, adding that he had suffered several injuries included ‘blunt head trauma’ and ‘left rib fractures’, as well as ‘multiple injuries to the head and chest’.

It also suggested that such injuries ‘may have been caused by a fall from height’, and concluded that ‘the cause of death was multiple injuries’.

Mr Matthew Watkinson, a lecturer on the field trip who had known Mr Manto since the start of his course, was called to give a statement during the inquest.

He described Mr Manto as ‘in a group and highly intoxicated’ on the night of May 6.

He recalled: “I saw James leave the pub but didn’t see where he went.”

Coroner Lewis went on to ask Mr Watkinson if the university had learned any lessons for future field trips: “Has the university implemented any procedures?”

Mr Watkinson said how the university had held several meetings between senior staff.

He said: “We looked particularly at how to further encourage students to be responsible regarding alcohol intake.”

Mr Watkinson also added the students would be reminded of their ‘responsibility to one another’.

He added: “I’d specifically briefed the students that afternoon about responsibility and being mindful of the local people.

“In my heart, I wish I’d come across him and was able to bring him home.”

Following his statement, Mr Manto’s mother questioned Mr Watkinson as to why her son had not been escorted home, given his intoxicated state.

Mr Watkinson replied: “My view of James at the time was he was with a large group of students.”

He added: “I didn’t think it was a situation where he’d be a danger to himself.”

Several statements by other students on the field trip were also read. They described Mr Manto as ‘swaying’ and ‘unsteady on his feet’. Commenting on Mr Manto’s character more generally, it was said he was found to be ‘very quiet’ and ‘shy’.

In his concluding statement, Coroner Lewis said: “We can only speculate as to what happened in those last few moments.”

With reference to Mr Manto’s injuries being consistent to those of a heavy fall, Mr Lewis stated the death was ‘accidental’, adding: “James Manto died as a result of an accident.”

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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