Middlesbrough Adrenaline Junkie Death An Accident
13 November 2012, 17:10
An inquest's found an "adrenaline junkie'' from Middlesbrough died in an accidental fall from a Thai hotel.
30 year old James Smith, who scaled landmarks including the Angel of the North, may have been exploring the Novotel hotel near Bangkok airport when he fell to his death in August 2010.
He was an experienced rope user, caver and climber who grew to love Urban Exploring - gaining access to unusual and sometimes derelict buildings and recording them for posterity.
Teesside Coroner's Court heard Mr Smith, a rigger who was to start a contract in Vietnam, had drunk five bottles of beer in his hotel room before he died.
Initial investigations in Thailand indicated he killed himself, but that was ruled out by coroner Tony Eastwood, who returned a verdict of accidental death.
A British post mortem detected hand injuries which indicated he had tried to grab the side of the hotel building as he fell.
Mr Eastwood said:
"Mr Smith was someone who lived life to the full in that he worked hard, often abroad, and used the monies to engage in his passion for travelling and learning about the cultures of foreign civilisations.''
The coroner said James, who was known as Jim, was an accomplished climber and had scaled large pieces of public art like the Angel of the North in Gateshead and the Temenos sculpture in Middlesbrough, as well as the exterior of a Manchester hotel.
But he was also cautious, Mr Eastwood said, and would use ropes and safety equipment in his activities.
Mr Smith, who was single and lived with his parents John and Carol in Marton, Middlesbrough, was held up for a couple of days in Bangkok on his way to Vietnam, and was at a loose end.
He conversed with his mother by text at around 2am local time, and his parents believed he tripped over a kerb on the hotel roof and fell soon after.
His father, a 69-year-old former lorry driver, said:
"He was an adrenaline junkie. We didn't always agree with what he did, but that was his life.''