Teenage daughter of Appeal Court judge killed on safari by rock fall

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The teenage daughter of a senior Court of Appeal judge has died after being struck by a rock in a climbing accident while on a school safari trip in South Africa.

Amelia Ward, 16, was killed instantly when she was hit by a rock, which had been dislodged from a crag as she waited at the bottom during an abseiling exercise in the Zingela park, in the province of KwaZulu/Natal.

Amelia's twin sister, Kate, was also in the group of pupils, from the City of London School for Girls, when the accident happened on Saturday afternoon. Both were due to find out the results of their GCSE exams this Thursday.

The school and its travel company have announced an inquiry into the tragedy. The girls' father, Sir Alan Ward, 62, who is a Lord Justice of Appeal, said he believed it had been a "freak accident".

Amelia, described as an outstanding pupil, had told her sister that she was having "the best time of my life" on the adventure holiday.

In a joint statement with his second wife, Helen, the judge, who chaired the panel of judges that decided on whether to separate the conjoined twins known as Mary and Jodie, said: "We are incredulous and bereft. This freak accident, for which no one is to blame, has cruelly robbed us of a daughter whose beauty, wit and vitality lit up our life with joy."

The group of 15 pupils were in the Zingela park, which is in the north-east of the country, as part of the Duke of Edinburgh gold award scheme.

The rock is understood to have bounced down the crag before striking Amelia on the head. She was given first aid by guides who were with the group and was then treated by paramedics, but she was pronounced dead at about 5.30pm on Saturday.

The trip, which involved a traditional safari camp on the banks of the Tugela river, was run by Outpost Limited, a company based in Somerset that has organised school adventure trips for the past four years.

Dr Andrew Parmley, the chairman of the school's board of governors, said that the school was running an investigation into the death with Outpost Limited.

The school said that all the instructors on the trip had been fully qualified employees of the Zingela Safari and River Company, based in KwaZulu/Natal.

A coroner in South Africa was due to open an inquest yesterday so that arrangements could be made to fly home the dead teenager.

Her sister flew home yesterday to join her parents.