Twist in mysterious cliff deaths
A STRANGE twist has emerged in the case of three bodies found at a world famous tourist destination in the UK this week.
Police and emergency crews descended on stunning Beachy Head at East Sussex on Wednesday afternoon in response to a "major incident".
By nightfall, officers from the Eastbourne coastguard and Royal National Lifesaving Institution (RNLI) recovered three bodies from the base of the 162m chalk cliffs.
Initially, locals feared the victims might belong to one family; in March this year, a father leapt from the cliffs with his two young sons after murdering their mother.
But in a bizarre twist, authorities say the latest fatalities are completely unconnected.
According to police, coastguards were retrieving the body of a man when they noticed the skeletal remains of a second person nearby. Less than an hour later, a third body had been found.
"Police and coastguards were first alerted at 3.32pm and with assistance from the Eastbourne RNLI inshore lifeboat recovered the body of a 58-year-old man from London," a police spokesman said.
"Shortly after 5pm, while this was in progress, a second, badly decomposed body, believed to be that of a woman, was found nearby.
"Then some 40 minutes later a third body, believed to be that of another man from London, was discovered some distance away."
Police are investigating each of the three deaths and while they are not suspected to be suspicious at this stage, the cluster of bodies was unusual - even for Beachy Head, which has a reputation for being as deadly as it is beautiful.
At 152 metres, Beachy Head is the highest of Britain's chalk sea cliffs, attracting nearly half a million visitors each year.
According to Hunt, who spent five years researching the book, more than 500 people have died at Beachy Head since 1965, making it one of the most notorious suicide spots in the world.
Not all have died by their own hand. Of the estimated 80 who fall to their deaths each year, around a quarter are suicide, according to local government statistics.
Locals have reported a number of rock falls at Beachy Head in the past year with several chunks of the cliff tumbling into the sea, sparking safety concerns.
Numerous tourists have lost their footing and plunged to their deaths while taking photographs, and there have also been fatalities among the scores of base jumpers who flock there each year.
Others have driven their cars off the cliffs, sometimes deliberately and sometimes accidentally, and they have been the backdrop for many murders.
In March, the bodies of two young brothers aged seven and ten were found alongside their father at the base of cliffs near Beachy Head.
Police later found the body of their mother, who had been stabbed to death, at the family home in south west London.
In December, a Korean student died after asking a stranger to photograph her jumping in the air near the edge of the nearby Seven Sisters cliffs.
Hyewon Kim, 23, lost her footing on the crumbling edge of the chalk precipice, plunging 60m to the beach below.
The site is not far from Ovingdean Gap, where 15-year-old Arthur Cave, the son of Australian music legend Nick Cave, died after falling off a cliff in 2015 while taking LSD with his mates.
In 2009, Neil and Kazumi Puttick leapt from the cliff with the body of their five-year-old son Sam in a backpack hours after the little boy died of meningitis.
Sam had been left paralysed in a car accident three years earlier and his parents had devoted their lives to making his bearable and happy.
But when doctors told him he would not survive the meningitis, they took him home to die. After he passed away, they drove to Beachy Head and jumped, unable to face life without him.
The unbearably tragic case prompted lifesaver John Bridger to speak for the first time about his 12 years as a volunteer coastguard at Beachy Head.
Mr Bridger said of the 250 bodies he had personally retrieved from the site in that time, the Puttnick family affected him the most.
"At the time, we suspected there might be a third body involved because when we found the family's people carrier it was obvious, from what was inside, that one of the occupants was disabled," he told The Mirror.
"But the bodies we recovered were not disabled, so we kept looking, in the belief that the third body was elsewhere.
"It was then that my colleague Stuart McNab looked inside the two holdalls (backpacks) lying beside the couple. One contained children's cuddly toys, but inside the second was the little boy's body. "At first Stuart thought it was a doll. He was horrified - you don't expect to find a body, do you? He didn't say much about it, but you could see the discovery badly affected him, as it did all of us. We've all been depressed.
"These last few weeks have been the toughest any of us can recall. The death of any child is a sobering experience, however tough and detached you think you might be."