A beloved teacher and footballer sent a triumphant mountaintop selfie to his family…then tragedy struck


A popular school teacher and semi-professional footballer has died after climbing a mountain alone, an inquest has heard. Atherton town center defender Kieran Halliwell, 35, was discovered unresponsive on a ‘steep section’ of Mweelrea, County Mayo, Ireland on August 18, 2021.

During a documentary inquest at Bolton Coroners Court, Chief Coroner Timothy Brennand read a number of statements at the hearing, including one from Kieran’s father, Robert Halliwell. Mr Halliwell described Kieran as his ‘best friend’ and told the court he was ‘very experienced’ in climbing mountains.

In August, Kieran went on a family holiday to Ireland but decided to stay in the country when everyone was returning home, so he could climb Mweelrea and then catch up with friends from college. A friend named Daniel Sammon was the last person to see Kieran alive, according to the inquest.

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In a statement, Mr Sammon said he had informed Kieran that climbing the mountain alone would be “dangerous” for someone who had never done it before. Mr Sammon saw Kieran again just before climbing Mweelrea and said he was “in good shape” when he left. When Kieran left, the mountain was clearly visible but clouds covered the upper half, Mr Sammon noted.

Kieran played for Atherton Town FC

On August 16, Kieran sent a WhatsApp message to his mother Mary Halliwell, telling her he had reached the summit, along with a photo.

“We texted him back saying it looked foggy behind him,” Mr Halliwell said. “We haven’t received a response.”

After more time had passed and they had arrived at their home in Manchester, a concerned Mr and Mrs Halliwell reported Kieran as missing to the Garda (Irish police). They also returned to Ireland and arrived at 4am on August 18.

A huge search effort included helicopters, drones and dogs, the court heard. Tragically, Kieran’s body was found ‘at tea time’, Mr Halliwell said.

“We were shocked and devastated. We were pale, we had lost our son.

“We really don’t know what happened on the mountain or how far he fell, but we can only assume he slipped.”

Following an autopsy, Dr. Tamas Nemeth recorded “pulmonary hemorrhage due to pulmonary contusion and puncture due to traumatic injury to the chest” as the cause of death. No medical episode was involved in Kieran’s death, according to the inquest.

In his touching statement, Mr Halliwell confirmed that Kieran was born in Billinge and grew up in Leigh. After earning a master’s degree in English at university, he became a teaching assistant at Manchester University Hospital, working with terminally ill children.

“He loved his job and found it really rewarding,” Mr Halliwell said.

“He was so well regarded that he was often invited to the homes of the children he cared for by their parents. They loved him and he returned that affection.

At the time of his death, Kieran was working as Head of English at New Park School in Eccles and living in Urmston, Mr Halliwell confirmed.

Bolton Coroners Court

“I am devastated,” Mr Halliwell added.

“I lost my best friend. We did everything together. »

Mr. Brennand recorded a finding of “accident”. He said: “I don’t want my findings to be interpreted as if I was taking a critical view or thinking it was a misguided attempt on a difficult mountain.

“He was fit, experienced and well equipped. Therefore, this is just one of the tragedies that can happen to any mountaineer under any circumstances and at any time.

“Kieran died pursuing one of his many hobbies. Kieran died living his life to the fullest. It just serves to emphasize the sense of loss in this case. I hope this brings some comfort to the family and friends of the deceased.

“During his short life, Kieran shared his wealth of experience, intelligence and inspiration with others. I am truly sorry for their loss and send them my condolences.

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