‘I was desperate for my team to make it’: Adventurers caught in Greenland storm tell inquest of ordeal that killed friend

Philip Goodeve-Docker died from hypothermia after team became trapped in a tent where temperatures plunged to -20C

Two British charity adventurers have recounted for the first time how they were caught in a horrific sub-zero degree Arctic storm which led to one of their friends freezing to death.

In emotional testimony, the pair told how their friend Philip Goodeve-Docker, 31, died from hypothermia in Greenland in April after the team became trapped in a tent where temperatures plunged to minus 60-70C including the wind chill factor.

Roan Hackney, 31, and friend Andrew Norman, 33, described how their efforts to hug Mr Goodeve-Docker to keep him warm and to sing morale-boosting songs as they were “squeezed by two walls of snow” failed to save their friend, who is believed to have died only a few hours before they were rescued.

Left to right, Philip Goodeve-Docker with Roan Hackney and Andy Norman Left to right, Philip Goodeve-Docker with Roan Hackney and Andy Norman (PA)

The men told an inquest at Basingstoke Coroner’s Court how, on 26 April, they became caught in a severe storm known as a “Piteraq” – an “all-consuming” and often deadly wind – two days into a 370-mile (644km) 30-day, unsupported charity trek across an ice cap.

Mr Goodeve-Docker, an events organiser from Chilbolton in Hampshire, died hours before the group were finally rescued by helicopter at noon on 28 April. The other men survived the ordeal, but had severe frostbite which resulted in Mr Norman losing some of his toes and fingers.

Mr Hackney told the hearing that he knew the storm was coming and so set up camp in readiness. He said they were well prepared with all the right kit to deal with the conditions, but explained that very soon his worst fears were realised as the storm “rapidly escalated out of nowhere”.

He said drifting snow and ice began crushing them inside the tent. Within hours all three of their tents poles had snapped, forcing them to huddle in the outside porch and fight for their lives in the cold.

He said he tried to go outside to move the snow, but was unable to as visibility was less than inch in front of his face. “I was concerned there would be suffocation under a blanket of snow,” said Mr Hackney.

After calling for help on a satellite phone, the men were told it was impossible to get a helicopter to them and that they would have to sit the storm out.

In Chilbolton, Mr Goodeve-Docker’s family, who attended yesterday’s hearing, were desperately trying to have the rescue brought forward after speaking to him on the phone.

By this point the men were becoming exhausted. “I kept repeating to the team their names and to tell me them back but in reality, our thoughts were only on survival… we were just trying to stay alive,” Mr Hackney said.

He added that the space the men had was getting smaller and smaller as the storm continued to rage.

Philip Goodeve-Docker died in Greenland Philip Goodeve-Docker (PA) “From 19.00 [on 27 April] it was an utter fight for survival,” he recalled. “It was excruciating but we had a sense of purpose and we were determined to stay alive. I had no intention of dying. I was desperate for my team to make it.”

By the morning of 28 April, Mr Hackney told the hearing he was unconscious with hypothermia and said that Mr Goodeve-Docker must had died a few hours before the rescue.

“I heard the helicopter and the sound of people grabbing my hand and I was pulled out of the snow... it was only later in hospital that I heard Andy had survived and Phil had died.”

Mr Norman told the hearing that his overwhelming memory of the ordeal was the constant, relentless wind.

He made a desperate attempt to live by managing to get under the team’s sledge for shelter before he was rescued. “Phil I knew to be dead. I had realised that Phil had frozen to death,” he said.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, North Hampshire coroner Andrew Bradley said: “It’s almost perverse that a fundraising drive taking place in a sense of adventure became the most appalling misadventure.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. Argyll, has remained derelict for more than 25 years
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game