20 May 2021
15-year-old schoolgirl died in “high-speed” boating accident after skipper struck a 15-foot buoy during “one-handed stunts”
A teenage girl died in a “high-speed” boating accident after a captain struck a five-ton buoy while doing “one-handed stunts,” a focus of investigation today.
Emily Lewis, 15, died of catastrophic chest injuries after the rigid inflatable boat she was in hit the 15-foot-high buoy the skipper had not seen.
A report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch released today said “few safety practices” were followed by the boat’s operators as it made a quick figure of eight turns and narrowly missed a series of buoys.
Images showing the horrific moment the boat sank into the huge buoy after leaving Southampton, Hants on August 22 last year was first released today by the MAIB.
The report states that the ship’s 11 passengers “got used to passing near large navigation buoys at high speed” and therefore “did not care” that the RIB was heading directly for the buoy on which it was seated. ‘is overwritten.
All but one of the passengers sustained injuries including broken limbs, fractured vertebrae, dislocations and a punctured lung.
Two were thrown overboard from the Seadogz boat.
Emily, sitting in a middle bench, suffered a fatal and catastrophic chest injury as a result of the tragedy.
The MAIB interim report said today that the skipper of the Seadogz performed a series of one-handed “high-speed maneuvers” including the eight-turn up-and-down figure of Southampton Water before the 38 crash, 4 knots.
He said: “Seadogz collided with the North-West Netley buoy because the skipper of the RIB was concentrating on conducting high speed maneuvers in the vicinity of another vessel and did not see the navigation mark fixed in time to take avoidance action. “
He added: “At 10:08 am Seadogz passed the Red Falcon car ferry, which was heading south-east on Southampton Water.
“It gave the skipper the opportunity to take Seadogz through and jump over the wake of the ferry.
As Seadogz passed behind Red Falcon for the fifth time, the RIB accelerated on a constant heading east for 10 seconds until at 10:11:09 and a speed of 38.4 knots (44.2 mph), it collided with the North-West Netley starboard hand buoy.
“The force of Seadogz’s frontal impact knocked the buoy into an almost horizontal position and threw the bow of the RIB upward.
“The impact and the brutal decelerating forces caused all passengers to be thrown violently forward from their seats.”
The report states that the anonymous skipper was “a highly qualified and experienced RIB driver, he had local knowledge of Southampton Water and had worked for Seadogz Rib Charter Ltd on an ad hoc basis for over 8 years”.
The report adds: “The investigation to date has revealed, and is worrying, that few safe working practices in the voluntary sector [Code of Practice] were followed on the day of the accident.
“It should be noted in particular: during the trip, passengers got used to passing close to large navigation buoys at high speed. try to alert the skipper.
“High-speed figure-eight turns increase the risk of the RIB snagging or spinning.
“The skipper was operating alone, at high speed and did not see the navigation buoy, which was directly ahead, for 10 seconds before impact.
“Crossing the ferry’s wake at high speed has increased both the risk of passengers suffering spinal injuries and of the RIB approaching a craft or object previously obscured by the ferry hull. , leaving the skipper little time to react. “
“The performance of the Seadogz Experience Ride on August 22, 2020 was not unusual for such operations.”
THE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES
MAIB said it is urging all commercial RIB operators to review their security guidelines and said it will produce a full investigation report in the future.
Andrew Moll, Chief Marine Accident Inspector, said: “This tragic accident has many aspects and the MAIB investigation is ongoing.
“However, there are immediate lessons that can be learned now that will help avoid a repeat this summer, which is why MAIB is issuing an interim report.
“What is worrying is that few safe working practices in the voluntary CoP were followed on the day of the accident.” These rides can provide excitement, entertainment and fun, and for this reason, they are popular.
“However, this terrible accident saw nine people sustain very serious injuries and tragically claimed the life of a young person.
“As the holiday season approaches, I want to remind operators that they also have a duty of care to their passengers and that safety should not be compromised in the thrill seekers. “
Emily, from Park Gate, near Southampton, was aboard the Seadogz speedboat with her mother Nikki, father Simon and older sister Amy, 19, who were all injured.
Emily tragically died at Southampton General Hospital later that day.
An inquest into his death will be heard at Winchester Coroner’s Court, Hants.