A WOMAN died in Norway after falling from a coach on a cruise excursion, an inquest heard in Winchester

Catherine Betty Fitzgerald, of Poplar Walk, Upper Hale, Farnham, Surrey, died on October 6 last year at Stavanger University Hospital.

Mrs Fitzgerald, who was known as Betty, had been on a Saga cruise around the Norwegian fjords and the inquest, on Monday, December 4, heard she was travelling alone. 

The 79-year-old had been on a coach excursion, and on returning to the ship Spirit of Discovery, she fell down the steps and suffered a fatal head injury. 

The inquest heard that the cause of death, given by Norwegian medical staff, was a traumatic subdural haematoma. 

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Mrs Fitzgerald's daughter, Pauline Parrott, raised concerns about the safety of the coach and the fact that she was unaccompanied en-route to hospital.

Mrs Parrott said: “There was a serious lack of communication from Saga.”

Senior coroner Christopher Wilkinson read out a statement from witness Derek Wilson. The statement said: “She missed the steps and fell onto the pavement. She seemed to be unconscious. People were in shock.”

Daniel Mann, Saga's head of safety, said: “We have accidents on coaches, it's not uncommon. People have slips, trips and falls. It's always a possibility with our target age group."

Mrs Parrott said: “I'm disappointed because I think passengers would be shocked by some of the things you think are acceptable.”

Mr Wilkinson said the cause was accidental death and added: “It was a desperately sad event. I hope you have very fond memories of her.”

After the inquest, a Saga spokesman said: “Our thoughts and condolences remain with the family of Mrs Fitzgerald following this tragic accident. We have been fully supportive of the inquest and provided all assistance to the coroner.”