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VIDEO: Padstow Speedboat Tragedy Report Released

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9:56am 30th January 2014
(Updated 9:56am 30th January 2014)

A dad and his daughter died when he tried to turn their speedboat too sharply off Padstow.

Investigators say Nick Milligan reached past his wife who was driving at the time and took the controls.

The whole family were thrown into the water and he and eight year old Emily were run down - because the kill cord was not connected.

The Sky TV executive and his family were visiting Cornwall on the 5th May last year when the tragedy unfolded.

He, his wife and their four children, aged 4, 8, 11 and 12 were due to head back to their mooring after a series of laps up towards Polzeath, when Mr  Milligan suggested they should have one more run.

A report by investigators reveals Mrs Milligan, who was driving, was reluctant to do so because she did not believe there was enough room between the beach and boat.

Mr Milligan reached past her, opened the throttle to full and began a sharp turn.

That was enough to throw the whole family into the water.

The report says: "The turn to starboard which led to the ejection was initiated by Mrs Milligan but Mr Milligan almost immediately reached across his wife and took control of the helm. It is likely that he did this because he thought that a tighter turn to starboard was required to keep Milly clear of the beach on the Padstow side of the estuary.

"The manner in which Mr Milligan took the helm appears to have been out of character as he was known to be a safety-conscious and prudent individual."

Because the kill cord was not connected the boat circled back towards the adults and children - hitting several of them.

Mr Milligan and Emily died, Mrs Milligan and their four year old son were seriously hurt.

A number of people witnessed the accident and called for help.

Meanwhile a team of canoeists paddled over to help. One was a trained paramedic and began trying to help the survivors, pulling them out of the water. Another tried attracting the attention of other boats, while a third attempted to intercept the out of control boat.

Moments later a doctor, in a pleasure boat, dived into the water to help while a local boatman managed to jump aboard the runaway speedboat and turn off the engine.

Investigators from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said: "The three people in the canoes did not hesitate when proceeding to the assistance of the casualties.

"As the first on scene they were faced with an extremely difficult and distressing scenario. The fact that they were able to triage and provide first-aid to the casualties,  while also phoning the emergency services and summoning help from other craft in the area, was highly commendable. Without their highly professional intervention it is possible that the consequences of this accident would have been worse.

"The action of the single canoeist in attempting to intercept the circling boat, in order to prevent further injuries, to the point where contact was made between the two craft, was selfless and worthy of note.
Also praiseworthy were: the actions of the doctor, a passenger on Thunder, who entered the water to provide first-aid to the casualties; and the bravery and seamanship of the local boatman who managed to bring Milly under control as it circled in the estuary."

In a statement the Milligan family said: "We are still coming to terms with this tragic accident which has left us without Nick, a loving husband, father, son and brother, and Emily, whose life was only just beginning.

"We sincerely hope that awareness of this accident will mean that another family does not have to go through anything similar."

Richard Falk from the Royal Yachting Association said: "Last year's accident was a salutary reminder to us all of how important it is to always wear a kill cord when underway. However, with most incidents there is rarely one single causal factor, but rather a number of contributory factors. In a majority of cases the avoidance of any one of these factors would have either prevented the accident or at the very least minimised its severity.

"That is why it is vitally important that boaters should never lose sight of any of these basic safety steps that should be followed every time they go out on the water, in particular to always wear a kill cord when underway."

"They should also be aware that boat handling at speed is a different ball game to manoeuvring at slower or more moderate speeds; when something goes wrong at speed the knock on effect is far greater."

You can get more information on kill cords here...

9:56am 30th January 2014

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