Mother-of-three drowned after falling from hire boat which did not have ‘adequate guardrail’ | UK News


A mother-of-three who died when she got caught in a boat’s propeller and drowned would have been unlikely to have fallen from the hire boat if an adequate rail had been fitted, an investigation has found.

Laura Perry was on the third day of a five-day holiday on the Norfolk Broads as part of a group of nine when the accident occurred at 1.18pm on 19 August 2020.

The 38-year-old, from Bermondsey, London, was with her partner, who was the nominated skipper and their three sons aged 16, 14 and four.

Her mother and father, her sister, who was the driver, and her 16-year-old niece, were also in the group on the 12.8m motor cruiser Diamond Emblem 1.

Ms Perry fell overboard from the rear deck when the boat’s stern made hard contact against the embankment wall opposite Great Yarmouth Yacht Station on the River Bure, a Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report said.

The report said: “She became entangled in a length of rope and the propeller, suffering multiple injuries that resulted in her drowning.

“It is likely that Laura would have been prevented from falling into the water if Diamond Emblem 1 had been fitted with an adequate guardrail around its stern.

“The boat’s driver at the upper helm control position was unable to control the motor cruiser at the time, most likely because the helm position changeover lever had been incorrectly set to the lower helm position.”

Further contributing factors were identified in the MAIB report, relating to the “technical features of the dual-helm control system”.

The investigation found that “both the boat handover and the documentation provided to the family were insufficient to ensure that the hire party were competent to drive a boat with dual-helm control”.

It said that the handover, which took “about 10 minutes”, happened while the group’s luggage was being loaded on to the boat at Ferry Marina in Horning, which was the hire boat operator.

The group had been travelling on the 12.8-metre motor cruiser Diamond Emblem 1
The group had been travelling on the 12.8m motor cruiser Diamond Emblem 1

Recommendations made to ‘enhance safety of hire operations’

Further recommendations were made around issues including handover to the owner of the hire boat, and a series of recommendations were made to the Broads Authority.

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Chief inspector Andrew Moll said: “Large motor cruisers with sophisticated controls are becoming increasingly common and are often driven by members of the public who have limited or no proficiency in boat handling.

“It is imperative that complex multi-helm controls incorporate appropriate technical features and indications to minimise the likelihood of an inadvertent loss of control.

“Following this investigation, I have made recommendations to enhance the governance, oversight and safety of hire boat operations.

“I have also recommended to the boat’s operator that they address various aspects of the safe operation of their boats.”

Hire boat operator Ferry Marina said it was unable to comment at this stage.


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