Police launch probe after two disabled people die following boat capsize

The bodies of two missing people were recovered from Roadford Lake near Okehampton in Devon on Thursday, about 24 hours after the boat capsized.

10 June 2022

Police have launched an investigation after two disabled people died following an incident involving a capsized motor boat in Devon.

The bodies of two missing people were recovered from Roadford Lake near Okehampton in Devon on Thursday, about 24 hours after the search began when the boat capsized.

A third person, a woman in her 50s, remains in a critical condition at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

Devon and Cornwall Police and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch have opened parallel investigations into the incident.

Roadford Lake deaths
(Tess De La Mare/PA)

The force said it is also in close liaison with HM Coroner for what it expects will be “a complex investigation”.

Formal identification has not yet been completed, it added.

Superintendent Toby Davies, from Devon & Cornwall Police, said: “This has been a tragic incident in which two people have lost their lives.

“We continue to support all of the families involved with the deployment of specialist family liaison officers and our thoughts remain with those families at this difficult time.

Roadford Lake in Okehampton, Devon
(Tess De La Mare/PA)

“The parallel investigations will look at the circumstances surrounding the incident with the MAIB in addition identifying ways to prevent a similar incident occurring in the future.

“These investigations have already seen liaison with HM Coroner and we would expect this to progress further during the next week.”

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) declined to comment on reports the victims were in wheelchairs at the time, or if investigators would look to determine whether they were strapped into the boat and were wearing buoyancy aids.

A spokesman said: “Our investigation is in its early stages and our current focus is on gathering as much evidence as possible.

“This will include everything from the events on the day through to the boat’s design and construction.

“We are carrying out a safety investigation that will seek to establish the circumstances and causes of the accident and identify ways of preventing a similar accident occurring in the future.

“All lines of inquiry are open and being examined.

“It is too early in the investigation to say anything more about this, but we can reassure everyone that if we do identify the need for urgent safety messages, these will be issued without delay.”

The alarm was raised when the boat capsized at about 1.30pm on Wednesday, with six people on board.

Two people were taken to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, one of whom remains in a critical condition, while the other was discharged.

The other two were pulled from the water and checked by paramedics before being discharged at the scene.

All of those in the boat are believed to be local to Devon, investigators said.

South West Lakes Trust, which runs Roadford Lake near Dartmoor, said its on-site activity centre would be closed until further notice.

Roadford Lake Sailing Club said: “Our thoughts are also with the centre staff who performed some heroics to minimise the loss.

“We would also like to thank the emergency services who attended who offered support on shoreside and spent a long time doing search and rescue on the water.”

Okehampton mayor Bob Tolley said: “We are all thinking about those poor families involved, and our condolences go out to all.”

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