Student nurse died on midnight swim, inquest hears

Millie Gentry was two weeks into her month-long volunteering trip in Ghana
Millie Gentry was two weeks into her month-long volunteering trip in Ghana

A student nurse died after hitting her head during a midnight swim with friends in Ghana, an inquest has heard.

Millie Gentry, 19, was two weeks into a month-long volunteering trip to the country when she died after getting into difficulty in the water last March.

Bradford coroners’ court heard Gentry and her friend Erin Byrnes – along with two other volunteers – had been for a meal together on the evening of March 16.

They then went to a pool bar for drinks, before breaking a 10pm curfew set by course supervisors to go for a late night dip at around 12.30am.

The court heard how Gentry would have climbed a “pretty big” wall to get out of the premises as the gates were locked for the night.

‘Desperate circumstances’

The group arrived at the beach, which was just a minute’s walk away. After entering the sea, strong waves and currents swept them further out after 15 minutes and “overwhelmed” them.

One of the group managed to get out and call for help. Ms Byrnes, who was not a strong swimmer, was still battling the sea and “tried in vain” to lift Gentry while screaming for help, the court heard.

Martin Fleming, the senior coroner for West Yorkshire, said Ms Byrnes eventually came to the “terrible realisation” that Gentry had “succumbed to the waters”.

He added: “She felt little choice under these desperate circumstances, she let go of her.”

Ms Byrnes felt “close to giving up” but was rescued, the court was told.

Gentry’s body was found on the beach at around 5am after roughly 30 villagers tried to find her, the court heard.

A post-mortem in Ghana found Gentry had died from asphyxiation as a result of drowning. She also had a blunt force injury to her head.

Mr Fleming said Gentry’s drowning was likely brought on by the head injury that he considered she sustained while in the sea.

Paying tribute, Tracy Gentry said her daughter had the “kindest, biggest heart”.

Mr Fleming said there was no evidence Gentry consumed more than a couple of drinks and concluded her death was one of misadventure.

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