Dad couldn't save Gillian Davey From Cornish Wave Of Water

A dad desperately tried to save his daughter from underneath a capsized cabin cruiser, an inquest has heard.

Gillian Davey, 17, from Wadebridge, died after a 6ft crashing wave hit the boat during a family day out near Padstow, Cornwall, on 25 May.

Stefan Davey said the wave appeared as they navigated a notorious sand-bar.

Coroner Andrew Cox, concluding the death was accidental, said the family had been caught out despite taking “every possible safety step”.

The “co-ordination of the emergency response to the incident” is the subject of an ongoing Marine Accident Investigation Branch report, the inquest heard.

Mr Davey, an experienced seaman, told the inquest they had anchored for lunch and the weather and sea conditions had not given him any “cause for concern”.

The wave appeared as they turned to head back down into the estuary.

“I remember looking back to see a massive wall of water straight behind the back of the boat,” he said.

“It turned us straight over in one second.”

Mr Davey was thrown into the sea. Gillian and his wife Caroline were trapped in the hull of the overturned boat, which was being buffeted by waves.

A harbour patrol boat approached the vessel, by which time Mrs Davey had managed to get out and Gillian was thought to be in an air pocket.

“We were banging on the side of the boat and I could hear her banging back,” said Mr Davey.

“Every time I tried to dive down I just couldn’t get enough air to get to where she was,” he said.

Patrol boat officer Leon Burt called the Coastguard and helped to secure a line holding the cabin cruiser until an RNLI lifeboat arrived.

When the boat was eventually righted, Mr Davey found his daughter “lying motionless”.

“I got her in my arms and held her out the water,” he said.

She was taken to the Padstow Lifeboat Station by the Rock Inshore lifeboat and airlifted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

Det Con Simon Hill, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said his research showed many vessels had had problems in the stretch of water near the sand-bar, known as Doom Bar.

“One minute it can be benign and the next it can be quite treacherous,” he said.


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