A student who died after falling into a ravine on a trip to Morocco may have been ignored by passers-by for three hours - because they were scared of paying his medical bill.
Luke Sewell, 20, from Wilmslow, was in Agadir when he was found on a riverbank at the bottom of a 20ft ravine near his hotel in March 2014.
Coroner Dr Janet Napier said it was ‘likely’ that Luke, who was in Morocco with Newcastle University’s Surfing Club Society, had been spotted as early as 4am by people going to the mosque – but nobody stopped due to fears over ‘financing’ the bill.
Tracie Stringer, Luke’s mother told the inquest: “We were told everybody walked past Luke for a long period of time and nobody would go near him as they would be liable if he was taken to hospital. That’s terrible.”
Formerly a star pupil at Wilmslow High School, Luke was a ‘much loved’ son who helped care for his autistic younger brother Joel, 19.
He had suffered a period of depression before switching from chemical engineering to study maths and statistics - but had been happier on his new course, the inquest in Warrington heard.
On the night of his death, after a day of surfing, he’d had ‘some alcohol’, but had not drunk to excess or taken any drugs. He returned to his hotel with friends at around 1.30am.
But it’s thought he may have gone back out alone to retrieve his phone – which was found under a table the following day.
He was found, with severe head injuries, lying in a ravine near his room block at 7am the following morning.
Luke was taken to a hospital and then a clinic but died on April 2 with his parents by his bedside. There was no time to airlift him to the UK for treatment.
Moroccan authorities investigated the death and found it to be non-suspicious – but would not share their findings.
Dr Napier said his injuries were caused by a ‘fall from a height’, but it was not known why he had taken the path close to the ravine, which was not guarded by a fence or warning sign, and not the ‘usual path’. There was no evidence of self harm or severe intoxication, she said.
Recording a narrative verdict, she said Luke had died from head and chest injuries, adding: “Luke Sewell was found with severe head injuries at the bottom of a ravine near his accommodation block.
“There is no evidence as to how this happened.”
She added: “I’m sure the family is extremely frustrated that these blanks in knowledge have not been filled.”