Pal’s shock over Thai plunge girl
A man has told how he desperately tried to save a friend who died after being swept 300ft down a raging waterfall.
Sarah Crutchley, 30, lost her footing as she walked across submerged rocks and fell into two feet of water close to the edge of the falls in Thailand.
Her friend Chris Penny, of Accrington, tried to reach her as she clung on to life by grabbing a large rock, but she was washed away by the fierce torrent of water.
Sarah and Chris were among a group of five tourists visiting the Ton Nga Chang waterfalls.
They were both studying an English language teaching course in the nearby city of Hat Yai.
Sarah slid about 30ft down the sloping rock-face before plunging off the steep 300ft drop.
Former St Christopher’s C of E pupil Chris, 21, said he only survived being swept over the edge because the rock he happened to be clinging on to gave him a better grip.
He said: “Sarah was just swept off her feet by the water. She grabbed hold of a large rock and hung on for about two or three seconds.
“I tried to get to her but I also slid and fell and grabbed on to another rock.
“She was about one or two feet from the edge but didn’t say a word.
“I cried out for help and then the current of water was just too strong for her and she lost her grip. It was just horrible to watch.
“She didn’t stand a chance.”
Before travelling to Thailand, Chris recently held jobs at the Peel Park pub and Asda Accrington while studying for a degree in Liverpool.
A few years ago he undertook work experience at the Accrington Observer. He intends to stay in Thailand until the end of October.
Chris said their group of 23 Brits had spent two weeks on the paradise isle of Koh Lipe before returning to the southern city of Hat Yai. The group had a day off last Friday and five of them, including Chris and Sarah, visited the Ton Nga Chang waterfalls, a popular tourist spot 15 miles away.
The feature is made up of seven waterfalls descending a total of 5,000ft. The third tier – the one Chris and Sarah were climbing – is about 1,000ft from the bottom.
Chris said: “Sarah said to me she was having the time of her life and seeing the waterfalls was the sort of thing she had come out here for.
“We carried on walking across the rocks in knee-deep water when she suddenly lost her footing and slipped towards the edge.”
He added: “I was hanging on and for a second I thought I had lost my grip but my rock was just a better shape and I was able to get my hand underneath to pull myself up.
“Then about 20 minutes later a guy told me they had found Sarah. She had been pulled out of the water about 100 metres beneath where she fell. There was nothing anybody could do to save her.”
Chris said: “She was a really nice girl and was always positive and looked on the bright side. She had her camera stolen one day and didn’t moan about it at all.”
Sarah’s body remains in Thailand and is due to be repatriated back to Britain.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We can confirm the death of a British national on April 15 in Thailand.”
Her parents, Ian and Gill, of Winton, Bournemouth, were too upset to speak about what happened.