Space engineering student, 24, who drowned in the sea during Storm Noa ‘deliberately’ took her own life, inquest hears
- Sai Tejaswi Kommareddy, 24, died at the Royal Sussex County Hospital Brighton
- For confidential support call Samaritans on 116123 or visit www.samaritans.org
A gifted student who drowned in the sea during Storm Noa in April deliberately killed herself, an inquest has heard.
Sai Tejaswi Kommareddy, 24, who was studying for an MSc in astronautics and space engineering, walked into the sea at Brighton and plunged beneath the waves.
Eyewitnesses described seeing her walking along the beach as winds and rain lashed the coast.
But then the Indian-born student turned abruptly to the right and walked straight into the waves.
When the water was up to her waist she fell, or deliberately plunged headfirst under the waves.
Sai Tejaswi Kommareddy, 24, who was studying for an MSc in astronautics and space engineering, walked into the sea at Brighton and plunged beneath the waves
The tragic incident on April 11 this year was witnessed by a man carrying out work on a top floor flat overlooking the beach.
In a statement he said: ‘I noticed a person dressed all in dark clothing walking along the beach. I thought it was strange as it was terrible weather.’
He said he watched the person for a couple of minutes as they walked some way along the beach.
But then he saw them turn ‘hard right’ and walk straight into the sea almost up to the waist.
In a statement read to the inquest hearing in Chichester he said: ‘I watched the person either fall or head plant into the wave like they were trying to drown.’
The eyewitness said he immediately called the coastguard who arrived on the beach shortly afterwards on two quad bikes and quickly found the woman floating face down in the water.
They pulled her out and began attempting to resuscitate her on the beach before she was transferred to the Royal Sussex County Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
There were no family members present at the inquest in Chichester, West Sussex though a representative from her university attended by video link.
The tragic incident on April 11 this year was witnessed by a man carrying out work on a top floor flat overlooking the beach. He saw them turn and walk straight into the sea
Police, ambulance teams and coastguard crews from Brighton and Shoreham were called to the scene close to Brighton Marina. A coastguard helicopter from Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire was also called to the incident where Teja disappeared into the sea
The hearing was told Sai – who was also known as Teja – had been a student at Cranfield University in Bedford where she was studying for an MSc in astronautics and space engineering.
The one-year course was ‘intensive’ but Sai had appeared to be coping with the studying and seemed happy.
Fran Radcliffe, head of student welfare and support at the university, said Sai was a student representative for her cohort and took an active part in university life.
The master’s student was vice president of the CranSEDS association, the university’s branch of UKSEDS (UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space), which is made up of students who are passionate about space exploration.
Ms Radcliffe told the inquest Sai was an ‘engaged and active’ student who seemed to have had no problems settling in.
‘She seemed to be very much an active student who was working and studying hard on her course.’
Ms Radcliffe said the welfare and support team had not been contacted by her and were not aware of any problems she may have been experiencing.
The inquest was told the Indian-born student had travelled by train to Brighton from her lodgings in Cranfield, Bedfordshire the day before (April 10).
READ MORE – Woman who died in sea during Storm Noa was 24-year-old space scientist
She had booked a hotel for the night before before being seen walking along the beach at around 4pm the following day.
Coastguards found a handbag on the beach with contents belonging to Sai along with a key to a Brighton hotel. At the hotel they found a backpack belonging to the student.
A GoFundMe page was set up by her cousin to cover repatriation costs and her body was flown back to India for a funeral.
On the fundraising page the cousin said: ‘Sai was a driven and hardworking individual who dreamed of pursuing a career in aeronautics and space.
‘She had a natural curiosity and a thirst for knowledge that inspired everyone around her.
‘She had already made significant progress in her studies, but her dreams were cut short before she could achieve her full potential.’
A spokesperson for CranSEDS said: ‘We will always remember her as a bright and dedicated person, bringing a true expertise in the society.
‘She has extensively worked on developing new partnerships and succeeded in contributing to the development of CranSEDS throughout the year.
‘“Teja” was a a positive and inspiring individual who could get work done without showing any stress, everything with her seemed so easy and straightforward.
‘She was known throughout the whole university and club. The shock this tragedy caused, has made the whole Cranfield community distraught and in mourning ever since.’
Recording a verdict of suicide, West Sussex coroner, Penelope Schofield, said: ‘I am satisfied that Sai deliberately placed herself into the sea on Brighton beach with the intent of taking her own life, so sadly I need to record a conclusion of suicide.’
- For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details
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