6 May 2013

Cornwall speedboat tragedy victim was BSkyB executive

A mother and son injured in a fatal speedboat accident in Cornwall, which claimed the life of a BSkyB executive, are being treated for “life changing” leg injuries, police say.

In a press conference, Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed that a man who was killed along with his daughter after their speedboat lost control off the coast of a Cornish seaside resort was Nicholas Milligan, a senior executive with BSkyB.

Four other family members are being treated in hospital for serious injuries following the accident, although the two surviving daughters sustained only minor injuries, police say.

The family were on holiday in the coastal town of Padstow when they were thrown from the speedboat which went “out of control” and struck them.

The 51-year-old man and his eight-year-old daughter were declared dead at the scene yesterday afternoon.

But emergency services representatives said that further injuries may have been averted by the actions of local boatmen who cut the power on the boat as it circled in the water.

One of the men who intervened was named locally as Charlie Toogood, an instructor at Camel Ski School.

A second man, Will Jones, was also named as someone who came to their rescue.

The dead man’s 39-year-old wife, a four-year-old boy and two girls aged 10 and 12 were airlifted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

Heroic actions

The family, from London, was in Cornwall for the Bank Holiday weekend when the accident happened in the Camel Estuary near Padstow shortly before 4pm.

Witnesses who saw the events unfolding half a mile offshore claimed heroic actions by passers-by prevented more lives being lost.

Writing on Facebook, Maria Chase said: “We were down in Padstow today and saw the tragedy and saw a hero who saved more lives by jumping on to an out-of-control speedboat from another boat.”

In footage recorded by a witness and shown on the BBC, the speedboat is seen going around in circles before someone intervenes.

Charlotte Jacobs took to Twitter to write to the RNLI, saying: “We witnessed incredible bravery in Padstow today during the tragic accident that unfolded. The men involved deserve medals.”

Locals have expressed their shock at the tragic events.

‘Sad Day’

Chef Paul Ainsworth wrote on Twitter: “Very sad day in Padstow, our hearts go out to all family and friends involved. Life can be so cruel.”

Celebrity chef Rick Stein, who has four restaurants in Padstow, tweeted: “Our thoughts are with injured and bereaved involved in the tragic accident in Padstow this afternoon.”

999 operators received their first call from a mobile phone at 15.48 BST and were inundated with more calls seconds later.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman Jo Rawlings said: “There were reports that six people had been thrown off a speedboat, and that the speedboat was out of control for a short time.”

A major search and rescue operation was launched involving RNLI lifeboats from Rock and Padstow, helicopters from RNAS Culdrose and RNB Chivenor and coastguard rescue teams from Newquay, St Merryn and Polzeath.

The man and girl who died are yet to be formally identified, but their next of kin have been informed.

The police force has launched an investigation and the boat, which was owned by the family, has been taken away for examination.

Supt Colwell said the boat is privately owned by the family.

‘Tragic accident’

He said: “It is a tragic incident, and is subject to a police inquiry supported by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

“Witness accounts will form essential lines of inquiry, and we will be submitting information to the coroner’s officer in due course.”

Consideration of what the boat was doing at the time of the incident, and a mechanical examination of it, would also feature in the investigation.

Matt Pavitt, of the North Cornwall Coastguard, said the boat is eight metres long with a “very powerful engine on the back”. He said that he understood that the man who intervened was one of the local boatmen, calling his actions “incredible bravery which undoubtedly saved lives”.

He said the cause of the accident wasn’t known yet. “Reports are that the boat was seen to veer over to one side, causing all six people to end up in the water and then the boat is known to have circled a number of times hitting some of the people in the water.

“That is as much as we know at the moment.”

He appealed for anyone with stills camera or video clips of the incident who has not already come forward to contact the police as part of the effort to build a picture of what had happened.