A man, Harry McCabe, plunged 160 feet to his death from a Cornish cliff in front of his horrified wife and children while attempting to take photographs, it has emerged.
The 54 year-old, who celebrated his birthday last week, lost his footing as he walked along the cliffs at Mullion, Cornwall, with his 44 year-old wife Samantha and two children, 12, on Friday night.
It is thought Mr McCabe, who was holidaying in the area with a friend and their child, was trying to take a photograph along the cliff on the wrong side of the fence when he fell.
Locals told how Mrs McCabe ran into the Mullion Cove Hotel, just yards away, to raise the alarm just before 7pm.
The accident occurred following a week of torrential rain, which had made the paths slippery. The area is said to be popular with walkers.
Falmouth Coastguard coordinated the rescue attempt and a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose airlifted him to the nearby Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.
Mr McCabe, who is understood to have two adult daughters from a previous marriage, was pronounced dead on arrival. Devon and Cornwall Police said they were treating his death as accidental.
On Sunday night, grieving relatives were comforting each other at the family home in Basingstoke, Hants.
They were too distressed to comment. They gathered at the three-bedroomed terraced property in a quiet cul-de-sac in the Worting area of the town throughout the day.
It is thought the trip was to celebrate Mr McCabe’s birthday last week. The father’s birthday cards lined the bay window of the house. Friends paid tribute on Twitter.
“#RIP Harry McCabe – too young to die – our hearts go out to his family and loved ones,” said Tracy Gregory.
Mullion Parish councillor John Lang said incidents on the Cornish coast were “tragically not uncommon”.
“As far as I can gather the gentleman was attempting to take a photograph and he appeared to be on the wrong side of the fence,” he said.
“It’s quite a harsh environment and it has to be treated with respect – people have to be cautious. This is a beautiful county but people but take care.
“There is a reason for the fence and if you choose to ignore the warnings that are in place then it can be disastrous.”
He added: “Of course any loss is tragic and I’m not sure we have the words to express our sympathy towards the family.”
“The Mullion Cove Hotel was certainly involved in the care of the family for some considerably time and were praised by the coastguard for their hospitality.”
Coastguards later warned tourists to take extra care on clifftop paths, which have become incredibly slippery after a week of torrential rain.
A coastguard watch officer said: “There has been a lot of rain in Cornwall over the last week and people need to be very careful when they are out walking.
“The rain has made the paths very, very slippery and they can be treacherous.”
The family were thought to be staying at the nearby Mullion Holiday Park. The coroner has been informed.