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Grantham King’s boy, 15, died in hotel balcony fall in Spain

Sean Jonnalagadda
Sean Jonnalagadda

A Grantham schoolboy died last year when he fell from a balcony on the seventh floor of a hotel in Spain, an inquest heard this week.

Sean Jonnalagadda was 15 and a promising student at the King’s School in his first year of studying for his GCSEs.

He died on August 19 in Calella, near Barcelona, while on holiday with his parents and eight-year-old sister.

On Wednesday, an open conclusion was given by assistant coroner Richard Marshall at Grantham Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Marshall told the inquest that Sean, of Ganton Way, had been in a ‘low’ mood for a year. But he added that he could not, beyond a reasonable doubt, say that the schoolboy intended to take his own life.

Sean’s father, Saleem, a surgeon, told the inquest that his son had seen a counsellor and his GP about his mental state. His teachers said he was doing very well and had received a good school report.

On the evening of his death, the family were in the hotel bar when, at about 11pm, Sean asked for the key to go to their room. Mr Jonnalagadda said he had been very chatty and relaxed and had been talking earlier that evening about Formula 1 and his ambition to go to the United States while they had gone out to buy a charger. He had not drunk any alcohol.

A little later, the family heard a commotion and realised somebody had fallen on to a first floor balcony. They went back to their room and knocked on the door and tried to call Sean on his mobile, without success. They returned to the first floor where police and paramedics had arrived. Mr Jonnalagadda explained he was a doctor and later realised it was Sean who had fallen on to the balcony. He said the family were very upset and were taken away by emergency personnel.

Mr Jonnalagadda told the inquest that their seventh floor balcony had a metal frame which ‘swayed’. He said Sean had grown taller than him and the top of the balcony was lower on him.

He told the inquest that Sean was seen on CCTV climbing the seven flights of stairs rather than taking the lift. Mr Jonnalgadda said Sean must have put the air conditioning on when he got into the room because it was very warm and he must have been out of breath. He said he thought Sean went out on to the balcony and may have felt dizzy and leant over too far.

A mental health nurse said in a statement read out at the inquest that Sean had previously cut himself on his arms and legs with a razor blade, but the cuts were superficial. He had been referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

In another statement, Frank Hedley, headmaster at King’s School, said Sean was ‘on course to do exceptionally well’. He said Sean was popular with staff and students and was well-mannered and polite. He always kept busy and played music, and was a member of the school’s cadet force.

He added: “He was a throughly decent human being. He looked out for others. He was a superb young man who will be sorely missed in school.”

Following the inquest, Mr Jonnalagadda told the Journal he did not think Sean’s injuries were consistent with suicide. He said: “I felt he may have lost consciousness and he fell head first. I do not think he would have committed suicide.”

He said Sean liked science and had been making plans to go to university in California. Sean played violin and the piano and was a member of St Wulfram’s Choir and the King’s School orchestra and choir.

Mr Jonnalagadda added: “He was full of life. The day before, we had gone on a bus tour of Barcelona and he said it was the best day of his life.”


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