Catherine Shaw: British yoga teacher's death on Guatemala mountain was accidental

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A British woman died after falling from a mountain hiking trail in Guatemala as she went to watch the sunrise, an inquest has heard.


Catherine Shaw, 23, was found around 100m from the Indian Nose trail, in the south-western highlands of the central American country, after being reported missing several days earlier by friends.

Catherine Shaw, 23, was found around 100m from the Indian Nose trail, in the south-western highlands of the central American country, after being reported missing several days earlier by friends.

Catherine Shaw, 23, was found around 100m from the Indian Nose trail, in the south-western highlands of the central American country, after being reported missing several days earlier by friends.

On Thursday, Oxford Coroner's Court heard that Ms Shaw, from Witney, Oxfordshire, had been hiking alone and had removed her clothing before slipping off the trail.

A post-mortem examination concluded that she had died of "multiple injuries", including haemorrhaging resulting from a traumatic brain injury, coroner Darren Salter confirmed.

Despite previous online speculation about foul play, Mr Salter said there were "no suspicious circumstances or third party involvement", and it was likely that Ms Shaw had been dead for "four to six days" before her body was discovered.

Ms Shaw, who was a yoga teacher, was described at the inquest as "a very spiritual person, who very much enjoyed being surrounded by nature" and was reported to have been fasting at the time, though this was unconfirmed by a pathologist.

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"The likelihood is that Catherine was visiting, trekking on this mountain trail. She was alone, and she was to view the sunrise near this viewpoint, and had decided to climb a section of this mountain," said Mr Salter.

Ms Shaw was reported missing on Thursday March 7 this year, after being last seen in the town of San Juan La Laguna, on the shores of Lake Atitlan.

Police announced on Monday March 11 that her body had been found unclothed and in a state of decomposition near the viewpoint.

But her father, Tarquin Shaw, who attended the hearing with his wife, Ann, and Ms Shaw's godmother, Trish, said his daughter was "quite capable" of having removed her own clothing.

"It's unusual for a 23-year-old to not be body-conscious," he said.

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"She believed in what she was presented with. She was confident and it was quite refreshing to see in a youngster. She was very comfortable in her own skin."

A family statement, read out to the court, said Ms Shaw was "a vivacious, friendly, kind and adventurous person who made friends all over the world. She loved mountains, waterfalls, sunrises and sunsets."

Her short-term plan had been to explore a volcanic area before travelling to a festival in Colombia.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, Mr Salter offered his condolences to Ms Shaw's family, saying: "She was someone who led a very full and active life."