Inquest: Torvill & Dean's Olympic coach Betty Callaway-Fittall died trying to call doctor

Betty Callaway-Fittall (left) with Torvill & Dean

Betty Callaway-Fittall (left) with Torvill & Dean

First published in News Bucks Free Press: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE coach who guided Torvill and Dean to Olympic gold died as she tried to reach a phone to call her doctor after cutting her head, an inquest heard.

The body of Betty Callaway-Fittall was discovered on a landing in her Seer Green home by best-friend Penelope Whitelock at about 9.15am on June 27.

The 83-year-old - who was behind Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean’s perfect-score Bolero ice-dance at the 1984 Olympics – sustained a 3cm cut to the scalp.

The wound bleed profusely but the injury itself would not normally have been enough to kill someone, Dr Chia told the inquest.

Toxicology reports revealed she had been drinking the night before and, at the time of that test, the alcohol in her body was double the legal limit for driving.

But it is believed she actually consumed more alcohol than what was discovered in her blood stream, and sustained the injury during a fall sometime in the night.

The combination of alcohol and injury was the cause of death, as Mrs Callaway-Fittall’s organs were in a good condition for someone of her age, Dr Chia said.

A tearful Mrs Whitelock told Wycombe Law Courts how she rushed across the road to get a spare key from neighbour John Goodyear, after she spotted blood on the carpet through a side window.

She had arrived at the property in Long Grove to take the woman she described as her best friend to visit her husband Roy Callaway at Wycombe Hospital.

She said: “I went to John’s for a key...I saw her on the first landing, she was covered in blood. I shouted ‘Betty’ and touched her but she was cold...I knew she was dead.”

DC Gareth Nicholson described how a trail of blood snaked around the home from Mrs Callaway-Fittall’s body on the landing.

A bloodied hand print was found on the phone and an address book opened on a page containing her doctor’s contact details.

He added the house was secure and none of Mrs Callaway-Fittall’s prized medals and photos had been disturbed.

In recording a verdict of accidental death, the Buckinghamshire Coroner Richard Hulett said no-one will ever know exactly what happened.

He added: “But at some point she is drinking alcoholic beverages, there’s an empty bottle of vodka in the kitchen, and she has taken herself to bed.

“I’m sure she has taken a tumble and cut her head which explains the blood and injury. It bleeds alot and looks dreadful but not normally going to cause death.

“She has been in distress, thinks about getting help and is looking for the phonebook and the phone to call her doctor, but she never succeeds in making that call and she came to a halt by the landing where she dies.”

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