A teenage girl lost her life after falling into a river on Dartmoor during training for an Army-run challenge.

The girl, from Edgehill College in Bideford, Devon, was swept away in the Walla Brook near Watern Tor yesterday. The river was in spate after heavy rain.

She was among a group of 10 from the independent Methodist School which was practising for the Ten Tors Challenge, which involves a 55-mile hike across Dartmoor. 26 others were airlifted from the moor in appalling weather.

A spokesman for the Army said: “This is the first time a fatality has occurred in either training or during the event itself.
“The student was part of a managed group from her college and all managers undergo mandatory training where they are instructed in training and preparing a team.”

The spokesman added that there are no plans to cancel or change the event, planned for May 12 and 13. The girl has not yet been named.

About 85 teams were training on Dartmoor at the time of the accident, including two other teams, from Milton Abbey School in Dorset, and Lipson Community College in Plymouth, who were also airlifted from the moor.

The dead girl’s school issued a statement saying: “We are all shocked by the tragedy and are working to support all the pupils and staff in coming to terms with what happened.

“The pupil was a delightful member of our school community.

“She loved to be involved in all the activities the school runs and shared her love of sport by helping to coach younger pupils. We will all miss her enormously.”

A National Union of Teachers spokesman said he was confident teachers would continue to involve pupils in the Ten Tors despite the death.

He said: “There is no doubt that thousands of schoolchildren and their teachers have over the years gained enormously from participating in Ten Tors and other outside activities in Devon.

"The pupils can obtain levels of activity and satisfaction which are quite diverse to those which they would find in school. They find an alternative setting in which they can relate to their peers and their teachers than they do when confined to school."

The challenge has been run for more than 20 years.