Teenager killed in Brixham speedboat tragedy

Police believe that a buoyancy aid may have trapped 14-year-old Emily Gardner underneath a 16ft speedboat, which capsized near Brixham

Police investigating last weekend’s Brixham speedboat tragedy believe that a buoyancy aid may have trapped 14-year-old Emily Gardner.

The teenager from Gloucester was on holiday with a friend’s family when she took to the water with a 50-year-old man, who is believed to be the skipper, and two 15-year-old girls.

Their vessel hit a freak wave and capsized near Brixham breakwater at 11:45 on Saturday, trapping Emily and throwing the other three passengers out of the boat.

A statement from Devon and Cornwall Police read: “It appears that Emily became trapped due to her buoyancy aid getting caught on part of the boat.”

Nearby PWC riders attempted to free her, but she remained trapped until the crew from RNLI Torbay arrived on the scene.

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Emily Gardner

Devon and Cornwall Police released this image of Emily Gardner

After reaching the shore in a critical condition, Emily was transferred to Torbay Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

All of the boat’s other passengers were discharged with minor injuries.

The police statement added that there were no suspicious circumstances and that they are treating this as a “tragic accident”.

The Maritime Accident Investigation Branch will now look into the causes, including the speed the 16ft boat was travelling at when it capsized and how Emily’s buoyancy aid became stuck.

Detective Sergeant Andy Turner, deputy Senior Investigating Officer, based in Torquay, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends who are affected by this tragic incident.

“I would like to thank the public and the emergency services for their assistance in getting the casualties to hospital swiftly. We are keen to speak to any witnesses who have not already come forward.”

As a mark of respect for Emily’s family, a minute’s silence was observed at the Brixham Pirate Festival on Sunday.

Festival chairman Adrian Measures told the Gloucester Citizen that it was “the least we could do”.


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