A FYLDE mum-of-two died after becoming trapped in quicksand on a Caribbean beach.
Nicola Raybone had only been in Antigua for a matter of hours – after arriving to celebrate her father’s wedding – when she drowned in a freak tragedy.
An inquest was told the 33-year-old, from St Annes – today described by her heartbroken family as a “beautiful daughter, mother and friend” – had gone for a walk alone when she got into difficulties and sank into the sand.
As night-time fell, and the tide came in, it is believed the young mum could be heard calling out for help.
But an hour after a search and rescue operation was launched, her body was found on the shoreline at the Jolly Beach Resort on the west coast of the island.
In a statement read out at the inquest in Blackpool, Ms Raybone’s family said: “She loved her family so much and was so proud of her children. They were a strong, united family. She was very proud when her children were the Blackpool FC mascots for a match in February 2010.
“She was involved in many charities. She was a loving mother, daughter, sister and friend.
“She was beautiful, caring, friendly, fun-loving and never one to speak ill of others. She was very happy at the end of her life, having moved into a new house with her partner and children. They were looking forward to a bright and happy future together. Everyone is shocked and devastated.”
Ms Raybone, of St Alban’s Road, who trained as a nursery nurse and also studied criminology, died on the first day of her holiday on January 19.
The inquest was told she had arrived at the resort with her family around 4pm and they had gone to the bar together.
At around 6pm, the group left to get something to eat but Ms Raybone stayed at the bar in the hotel complex.
When they returned, they discovered her phone and sandals in the bar but could find no other trace of her.
Blackpool Coroner Anne Hind, who instructed an inquiry into Ms Raybone’s death through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said: “Her family went to look for her but it was going dark.
“They walked along the shoreline. It was easy to sink deep into the sand, the beach slopped and it became pitch black.
“Security from the hotel and volunteers also carried out a search.
“The tide that night was very rough and high, waves at the shoreline were higher than usual.
“A body was recovered in the water, on the shoreline, and a full investigation was carried out.”
The inquest heard police had recorded a 911 emergency call the same day as Ms Raybone’s death reporting a woman was heard on the beach crying for assistance.
A post mortem confirmed Ms Raybone died from acute respiratory failure due to drowning.
Mrs Hind recorded a verdict of accidental death.
She said: “You can imagine how frightened she was. Having arrived on holiday, everyone was happy and excited about the forthcoming nuptials.
“She just took a stroll along the beach and got into difficulties in this very deep sand, almost quicksand.
“It’s frightening how fast it all happened. It is the most appalling tragedy and our condolences are with her family.”