The tragic death of a 17-year-old could potentially have been avoided if it not for a lack of boating experience and a failure to remove a life jacket.
Gillian Davey was trapped in the cabin of a pleasure cruiser as a huge “wall of water” hit it, causing it to capsize near Padstow, Cornwall, an inquest heard.
A new report released this week by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch details how, during the incident on May 25, 2020, Ms Davey kept her life jacket on while trapped in the room, as it was filling with water.
Her mother, Caroline, who was also in the same room, removed her jacket and was able to escape.
The report states that it was a “rare occasion” where a life jacket was not going to save her life – and that she should have removed it in order to get out of the room.
It said: “Without doubt, the wearing of personal flotation devices, such as lifejackets, saves lives.
“However, there are circumstances when wearing automatically inflating lifejackets can be hazardous, for example when in enclosed spaces such as accommodation areas and cabins.”
Her father was driving the boat around the often-dangerous Doom Bar sandbank at the mouth of the Camel Estuary.
The MAIB also stated that “limited boating experience” meant that Mr Davey was unaware of the “dangers” of being near to the sandbank at low tide – this left the boat, which was built in the 1970s, vulnerable to being hit by large waves.
Ms Davey was taken to a nearby hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival.
The MAIB also called for more training for those wanting to use leisure boats, but Covid-19 restrictions meant that there were no courses available prior to the accident happening.
Recommendations have been now made to Padstow Harbour Commissioners, calling on them to consider placing a “navigation mark at the north-east extremity of the Doom Bar,” and to the Wadebridge Boating Club to “review and amend the navigation information available” to those who want to take a boat out on the Camel Estuary.
MAIB Chief inspector Andrew Moll said: “This sad accident highlights the need for leisure boat users to get properly trained and equip themselves with the necessary navigational tools to stay safe.
“Conditions at sea can change rapidly, boat owners should check the weather forecast before setting out and know the limitations of their boat.”
Keep up to date with all the latest news by signing up to one of Daily Star’s free newsletters here.