Army veteran tragically fell to his death on Crib Goch while trying to retrieve drone

William Onion, 33, who died after an accident on Crib Goch in Eryri
-Credit: (Image: Alistair Onion)

An army veteran and experienced hiker tragically fell to his death on Crib Goch in Eryri while trying to retrieve his drone. William Onion, 33, had taken the device on a hike with five fellow walkers but when it landed he went down a slope to get it.

As he did so, he fell around 160ft. His friends raised the alarm and his body was found soon afterwards. Today a coroner at an inquest in Caernarfon heard Mr Onion, originally from Ballymena, sustained multiple injuries.

Kate Robertson, senior coroner for north west Wales, concluded that the death on November 11 last year was accidental. Sarah Edwards, one of the walkers with Mr Onion, said they had stayed in an Airbnb then took a shuttlebus to Yr Wyddfa [Snowdon].

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They set off up the Pyg Track and on the way up, Mr Onion, known as Will, slipped and fell. He was bleeding from his knee and finger and bandaged the injuries from his first aid kit before they resumed their journey.

He was an experienced hiker and extremely surefooted, so it was unusual for him to slip, said Ms Edwards. Mr Onion, a qualified mountain leader, was in front in his black shorts, red jacket and with a new rucksack.

William Onion, 33, served on tours in Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands
William Onion, 33, served on tours in Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands -Credit:Alistair Onion

As they proceeded he got out his drone, but it was too misty and he put it away. Later he changed his mind and got it out again. Ms Edwards said she saw the drone drop down the side of the mountain. Mr Onion went after it but the terrain was extremely steep.

Rocks fell and Ms Edwards could see Mr Onion "on his back, sliding down" the slope. He went out of sight and she couldn't see where he landed. She rang 999 at about 11am.

Another member of the group, Daniel Hellier, had been behind Mr Onion on the walk. He said he saw Mr Onion "step over something like a gap or a rock" and slip.

Emergency services, including police, an air ambulance team and mountain rescue volunteers, were called to the north face of Crib Goch. The casualty had fallen about 50 metres and was found lying at the bottom of the slope.

Home Office pathologist Dr Brian Rodgers carried out a post mortem examination and said he had multiple injuries which the coroner said were the cause of death. Concluding that the death was accidental, the coroner said: "He was doing something that he loved in an area that he loved."

The inquest also heard Mr Onion had been in the army, serving in Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands. He left the military and set up a hiking business.

Shortly before his death he had been on a recce to Mount Everest and had bookings for a trip there in March this year. His dad Alistair Onion said in a statement that his son spent seven years in the army, serving in the Royal Signals.

He had been a "stickler for safety" and had just completed a walk on Everest. He moved to Bournemouth with partner Nichol Martin and did charity work for veterans and in Dorset.

Mr Onion snr added that he is "extremely proud" of his son and his achievements.

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