The Fits’ Blackpool punk rocker drowned after falling from Lover’s Leap

The Fits with Michael Crudge on the far right

A former punk rocker from Blackpool has drowned after accidentally falling off a cliff into the River Dart on Dartmoor.

Michael Crudge, who was a singer in a 1970s band called The Fits before moving to Devon and becoming a healer and hypnotherapist, was out on a Sunday walk with his wife Orsolya Balla in August last year.

An inquest in Plymouth, Devon heard Michael, 59, had climbed to the top of the monument called Lover’s Leap on private land in Poundsgate, Devon, before slipping and falling 40ft into the river below.

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His frantic wife ran for help and two women entered the River Dart to locate Michael – but despite their best efforts he had drowned.

An autopsy concluded he had drowned, but pathologist Dr Paul Highley said he may have lost consciousness in the fall as he sustained a head injury.

His wife gave a statement to the coroner telling him that Michael was shirtless with a rucksack on his back when he rode Lover’s Leap while she lay on the ground below.

She said he approached the edge of the ledge and said: ‘He seemed to wobble, stopped and wobbled again and stretched his arms out before disappearing out of sight and falling over the edge.”

She said she heard a “slamming sound” as her body hit rocks, but he did not respond to her calls.

There was no cellphone signal at the remote location and she ran to a nearby cottage to call for help.

A woman swimming in the river called Belinda Abbott came to her aid and entered the water to try to locate Michael from the deep but slow-moving river.

She said, “It was so cold, I was struggling.”

She found her submerged face stuck near a rock in the middle of the river, but managed to turn it over and gave CPR before 999 crew arrived with the Dartmoor Rescue Group.

Police said it was a ‘tragic accident’ and said Michael, from Newton Abbot, Devon, fell into the river and may have passed out on the way down.

Plymouth and South Devon Senior Coroner Ian Arrow has recorded a finding of accidental death.

He said, “Michael went out for a day’s walk. It appears at the top of Lover’s Leap that he unfortunately accidentally fell from the top and injured himself falling and entering the water.

Mr Arrow praised the efforts of ‘public-minded’ rescuers and in particular Belinda Abbott who police say has been nominated for an award.

Michael worked as a hypnotherapist and was a healer who also used Indian head massage and was a retreat planner.

He had previously been the lead singer of a punk band in Blackpool called the Fits.

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