News Item

Smartphone map led to death

An inquest has heard that a woman died after her husband used a smartphone app to navigate instead of a map.

The university librarian was killed in March whilst she and her husband were looking for a safe route off Snowdonia’s Tryfan peak at dusk.

The couple, both experienced walkers, were using the husband's smartphone to guide them across the mountain’s west face. The husband told the coroner this week that his wife had gone a short distance ahead of him to look for a suitable route. Having decided that they would go only if they both agreed, he asked ‘Is it OK? Is it safe?’.

But he then heard a couple of exclamations, followed by the sound of rock fall - his wife had fallen 30ft down a vertical cliff, fracturing her skull and sustaining other severe injuries. After raising the alarm, he was led to safety by members of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team, who later found his wife’s body 500 ft lower down.

The Ordnance Survey Commercial Director advised walkers to always carry a paper map while using the OS smartphone app. After expressing his sympathy, he told The Telegraph: 'Due to the nature of mobile devices when navigating the real world, we will continue to encourage our customers to carry a paper version of the place they are exploring.'

A spokesman for Mountain Rescue England and Wales also urged walkers to use a map and compass in addition to electronic navigation aids, adding:
'Mountain Rescue would always advocate using a map and compass to navigate, either instead of or in addition to any electronic navigation aids. Apart from potential difficulties caused by poor detail on an electronic map, batteries on mobile phones have a nasty habit of running out just when you need them most.'

The leader of the rescue team told the inquest that the husband had been using an OS app on his smartphone, adding 'The image would have been small and not as detailed as on a proper map. There is no easy way up Tryfan but there are easier routes.'

The inquest was told that the victim was a fit and active woman and that she and her husband had been mountain walking and scrambling for 6 years. The coroner recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

Details from The Telegraph link below . .

  • 27 August 2016
  • RIN

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