Girl drowns after her life jacket traps her in capsized boat



It was the rare occasion that a life jacket wasn’t going to save your life, according to an investigation.

A British teenager drowned in a horrific boating incident, in which her automatic life jacket prevented her from escaping from a capsized pleasure boat. The abnormal incident happened on May 25, 2020, but the manner in which she died was detailed in an accident report released on Thursday.

“Without a doubt, wearing personal flotation devices, such as life jackets, saves lives,” read the statement from the Navy Accident Investigation Branch investigation.

“However, in certain circumstances, wearing self-inflating life jackets can be dangerous, for example in confined spaces such as accommodation areas and cabins.”


17-year-old Gillian Davey was on a pleasure cruise with her family off the Cornish coast when their pontoon boat, the Norma G, was ‘capsized by a big wave’ near the notoriously treacherous sandbar, according to the report. of Doom Bar, according to Cornwall Live. . When they realized their predicament, Gillian and her mother Carolina put on their personal flotation device, which automatically inflated when the cabin began to fill with water.

And while Carolina took off her life jacket and swam out the cabin window to safety, her daughter kept hers and got stuck in the submerged room.

Meanwhile, Gillian’s father Stefan Davey – who ran the ship – and his son, had been thrown overboard when the wave hit. They were then rescued by a port patrol boat passing by with Gillian’s mother.

According to the report, Stefan had tried several times to get down and save his daughter, but was unable to do so due to the rough waters and the ship having “overturned and sunk by the stern”.

A lifeboat finally arrived and managed to hoist the overturned pontoon out of the water, so Stefan could open the door and get his daughter out. However, at this point, Gillian was unconscious and was not breathing.

The teenager was then rushed to Royal Cornwall Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.


Authorities attributed the tragic incident to the father’s “limited boating experience”.

“This sad accident highlights the need for users of pleasure craft to properly train and equip themselves with the navigation tools necessary to stay safe,” said Captain Andrew Moll, Chief Marine Accident Inspector of the MAIB. “Conditions at sea can change quickly, boat owners should check the weather forecast before setting out and know the limits of their boat.”

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