'No such thing as zero risk': Park authority issues statement after Leah Harrison mudslide tragedy

A park authority has stressed there is "no such thing as zero risk" following the death of Leah Harrison in a mudslide tragedy.

The 10-year-old was on a school trip last Wednesday with Hartlepool Council-run Carlton Adventure, an outdoor education centre, when she tragically lost her life. Emergency services flooded Carlton-in-Cleveland with police, paramedics and mountain rescue volunteers called to the scene.

Tragically however, they weren't able to save the Mount Pleasant Primary School pupil who has been described by her family as a "bubbly" little girl who will never been forgotten.

Teesside Live previously reported Leah was on an instructor-led forest walk at the time and an investigation is being carried out into the circumstances surrounding her death. The North York Moors National Park Authority has now said despite the area being "actively managed" they are unable to eliminate risks completely.

Joel Brookfield, director of recreation and wellbeing at North York Moors National Park Authority paid tribute to Leah and reassured schools and parents. He said: "Staff at the North York Moors National Park Authority were hugely saddened to hear of the tragic incident at Carlton Bank and our thoughts are with Leah’s family and friends.

"We can confirm that the incident took place on an area of land which is open access, rather than on a right of way. This means that walkers are free to explore the space without sticking to marked paths or trails; the majority of moorland across the National Park, along with many areas of woodland, fall under this category.

"Even on rights of way that are inspected regularly, there is no such thing as zero risk. The Cleveland Way National Trail is a prime example of this, as despite being actively managed to be as safe as it can be, its 109 miles covers remote expanses, steep gradients and dynamic coastal cliffs. Rangers and others work to counter risks that are reasonably foreseeable, but they cannot eliminate them completely.

"We would like to reassure schools and parents that National Parks are safe and important places for outdoor learning. Many thousands of visits take place each year, allowing young people to engage with nature, build confidence and explore topics of great importance to the world today.

"Organisers are always recommended to look for the LOtC Quality Badge when choosing providers, demonstrating a high level of risk management and educational provision."