British astrophysicist Natalie Christopher died instantly coroner says

British astrophysicist Natalie Christopher died instantly when she plunged down a ravine on Greek island Ikaria, coroner reveals as rescuers describe how her hysterical boyfriend had to be restrained when her body was found

  • Dr Natalie Christopher, 34, was discovered yesterday in ravine on Aegean island
  • British astrophysicist went missing on Monday morning on the island of Ikaria
  • Coroner said the massive head injury she sustained was from an ‘accidental’ fall
  • Her boyfriend was restrained at the scene last night as he cried out in anguish 

British astrophysicist Natalie Christopher died instantly after plunging down a ravine, it was revealed today, as rescuers described how her hysterical boyfriend had to be restrained at the scene.

Coroner Nikolas Karakoukis said from his preliminary examination the 34-year-old’s death on the Greek island of Ikaria was ‘accidental.’

He carried out an assessment at the gorge where Dr Christopher’s body was found following a three-day search on the Aegean island after she was reported missing on Monday.

The academic’s 38-year-old boyfriend, who has only been identified by his first name, Kyriakos, was restrained by officers as he cried out in anguish for Dr Christopher yesterday evening.

‘He was screaming and crying and tried to run up the track to be with her,’ said one rescue worker. ‘He was distraught and pacing up and down and trying to get past the police. He wanted to see the body. I don’t think he could believe that she was dead. 

‘I saw him later and he had calmed down, but his face was completely white. I have never seen someone so drained of any colour.’

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Dr Natalie Christopher, 34, would have died instantly when she sustained a massive head injury after plunging through a ravine on the Greek island of Ikaria, a coroner revealed today

Members of the rescue team after they recovered the body of Dr Natalie Christopher, one of the rescuers described how her 38-year-old boyfriend had to be restrained by officers on Wednesday evening at the scene

Dr Christopher’s body is transported in a coffin from the accident area to the hospital in a car

Coroner Nikolas Karakoukis speaks to reporters after completing his preliminary examination of Dr Christopher today

Dr Christopher was a keen runner and her boyfriend says she went out for a jog on the Aegean island of Ikaria on Monday morning – her body was found half-a-mile from her hotel in Kerame where the search was focused

The coroner, Mr Karakoukis, said Dr Christopher had suffered a massive head injury that would have rendered her unconscious with an instantaneous death.

Speaking at the entrance to a track leading into the hills above the holiday rental where Dr Christopher began her morning run, the coroner said he has found a large pool of blood under her head where it had struck a rock.

The coroner, who flew to the island from Athens, said his preliminary examination led him to believe the beloved astrophysicists death was ‘almost certainly an accident’.

He said: ‘There was a large pool of blood under her head. She has a very serious head injury. Everything shows that death came from a fall from a height. ‘

He said a further examination of the body and autopsy would reveal the exact circumstances of her death.

Local police and volunteer fire-fighters who took part in the search told Mail Online it was likely Dr Christopher fell while trying to climb up or down a 13ft cliff along the running trail.

Dr Christopher was reported missing on Monday morning when she failed to return from a run

Coroner Nikos Karakoukis speaks with police officers this morning near the area where Dr Christopher was found

Volunteer fireman Vagelis Kriaras told Greek TV he had been in communication with Dr Christopher’s grieving boyfriend, who wrote him: ‘To all the kind-hearted lads (‘leventis’) that helped, thank you so much. Civil protection, volunteers and firefighters … thank you’

After falling and hitting her head at the bottom of the ravine a large boulder that was dislodged during her fall landed on her hip.

Rescue workers found her mobile phone in a pouch used by runners around her waist.

Search leader Costas Markakis said it wasn’t certain if Dr Christopher had been climbing up or down the ravine when she fell.

But he said lots of rain over the winter months meant that rocks were unstable.

He said: ‘The rocks in the area are very loose after we had a bad winter with lots of rain. They are not stable.

‘All the local people know this and do not attempt to climb them.

Forensic teams accompanied the coroner to the ravine where Christopher’s body was discovered around 4.30pm on Wednesday.

The astrophysicist worked as a researcher with the European University Cyprus in Nicosia, she studied at Oxford (Linacre College) and graduated with a Masters in Physics from Durham University (University College) in 2007 

Police officers block the road towards the area where the body of missing 34-year-old British Natalie Christopher was found on the island of Ikaria

The fitness fanatic’s phone gave out a signal which revealed her location to rescue teams

He was helped down the steep slope to carry out his examination before the body was placed on a stretcher and lifted back to the track.

A coffin containing the scientist’s body was placed in the back of a 4×4 and driven to the local airport to be flown back to Athens for a full autopsy.

Forensic teams spent almost three hours at the scene carrying out a fingertip search and taking photographs of the body and the position of fallen rocks.

A procession of vehicles, including a water truck and ambulance, left after the coroner was driven away with Ikaria’s police chief. 

Authorities and residents gather near the location where police said the body of Cyprus-based astrophysicist Dr Christopher was found in at the bottom of a ravine

At around 9pm on the eve of her disappearance she posted photos from a trip to Seychelles Beach where she spoke of her interest in climbing

An ambulance leaves from a location where police said Dr Christopher’s body was found 

Dr Christopher and her Cypriot boyfriend had been staying at the Blue Seaside Studios overlooking the sparkling blue sea in the small resort of Kerame on the picturesque island of Ikaria.

They had been due to fly back to Nicosia in Cyprus on Monday when Dr Christopher, an avid runner and rock climber, left for a morning jog.

She ran up a steep concrete pathway from her cottage to a dusty track leading off the main road running through the island.

A police source told Mail Online Dr Christopher had left the one bedroom holiday cottage at 8am without having any breakfast.

Her boyfriend called her on his mobile phone to tell her to return to the cottage as they were due to fly out from the island in the early afternoon.

After speaking to her briefly he was unable to contact her and later raised the alarm.

Friend’s tribute to ‘one of a kind’ runner, astronomer, triathlete and nature lover 

Natalie Christopher in a social media photo

A running colleague of Natalie Christopher posted a heartfelt tribute to her last night calling her ‘ one of a kind’

Christelle de Jäger from the Cyprus Trail Runners wrote on the club’s Facebook page: ‘Trail runner, astronomer, triathlete, climber, nature lover, peace activist, feminist and animal protector – Natalie Christopher was all of these, and more.

‘One of the most intelligent people we have ever met, she had a passion for life, and lived it to the full, with unbounded joy.

‘When she was trail running, we could always hear her coming. She would whoop with delight through the forest, and laugh and shriek and squeal like a child as she danced down rocky hillsides, as light as a gazelle on her feet.

‘She would ooh with wonder at the sky above, and then aah about the beauty of small blue orchid in the crevice of a rock.

‘A cat lover, Natalie could never resist taking in yet another abandoned, wounded kitten. There may not have been room in her house but there was always room in her heart. She travelled with cat food in her car so that she could feed any hungry animals she saw. And when she once found a dog run over and abandoned, she cared for the dog too, paying for vet costs from her limited income, and making sure it eventually found a good home in the UK.

‘When she put on her astronomy hat to talk about black holes and galaxies to audiences of laypeople, her passion for her subject inspired us to want to know more about the universe we live in.

‘Most importantly, on our still divided island, Natalie was loved and respected by people from all over Cyprus – north, south, east and west. She truly loved her country, and wanted to bring Cypriots together from across the ‘divide’.

‘Despite not being a natural early riser, Natalie somehow found time She was one of a kind, and the island has a huge, impossible-to-fill hole on it now.

‘She really did change lives, and she will never be forgotten.

‘We hope Natalie is now running among the stars and planets she loved so much – whooping through the milky way and leaping over moonbeams.’ 

Dr Christopher’s friends paid tribute to her joyous outlook on life and her compassion

The hotel where the 34-year-old British astrophysicist was staying before she was found dead in a ravine

More than 100 volunteer fire fighters joined the search along with a police helicopter with a heat seeking camera.

The area where Dr Christopher was ultimately found had been searched three times by rescue workers but due to the rocky terrain and thick undergrowth had not seen her body.

Michael Christodolou, 38, was among the first on the scene after an alert went out over their walkie talkies that a body had been found.

He said: ‘As soon as we saw the body it was obvious there was no sign of life. We were all very despondent as we had hopes that she would be found alive.

‘Some of those taking part were very distressed. They had high hopes that with so many people she would be found, but it was obvious that there was no hope for her.’

More than a dozen of Christopher’s friends ,including several from a running club in Cyprus that she belonged to, had flown to Ikaria to join in the search.

Before arriving on the island of Ikaria Dr Christopher posted a photo of her bathing in waters at Lemonakia Beach on the neighbouring island of Samos

Dr Christopher’s social media accounts documented her active lifestyle including snowboarding

Her 38-year-old boyfriend reported her missing after he tried to call her when she failed to return on Monday morning

Dr Christopher, who was born in London, went missing on the Greek island of Ikaria while out jogging on Monday morning

They were left devastated after word quickly spread that a body had been found.

Volunteer fire fighter Vangelis Kriaris is said to be ‘too distraught’ to talk.

A friend said: ‘He is very upset and just wants to be left alone. He will be offered counselling if he wants, but he has taken this hard.’

Dr Christopher’s boyfriend is thought to be still on the island, but has declined to talk to media.

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