Talented Musician Killed in Freak Brain Injury Accident

A young musician was killed in August 2006 when a 20ft branch fell from a 90ft Oak tree. The branch had been identified by Devon County Councils as a potential hazard, however, landowner Andrew Langham was not told about the survey or its results so no work had been done. The tree had only a small fungal infection but “was affected by a phenomenon called ‘summer branch drop’” which causes branches to be dropped from otherwise healthy trees. It can occur after long dry spells when there isn’t any wind.

Grace Turner, who was 16 years old, played both the piano and viola at Grade 8 level and was returning by car from a concert at St Mary’s Church, Totnes on the evening of the accident. The branch fell on top of the front passenger seat where she was sitting, crushing her and trapping her in the vehicle. She died three days later in hospital from severe head injuries. The two other passengers, her friends and fellow musicians, and the driver escaped uninjured.

As well as being a highly gifted musician Miss Turner had sat her GCSEs a year early gaining 11 A-grades and had passed five AS-Levels. On top of her studying she had found time to campaign for healthy food in schools before Jamie Oliver “took up the same cause”. She was also a member of the Youth Parliament and aspired to be a doctor once she had finished school.

Grace’s mother Ms Southon said: “I feel lost and cheated that all that potential for such an amazing future has disappeared in an instant. The world has changed and good things will go undone and good ideas will go unhatched and other good people will not achieve what they may have done with her encouragement. Our loss is immeasurable and our grief is limitless.”

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