Harrowing Video shows desperate rescue attempts to save drowning teen trapped under a speedboat

Emily Gardener, 14 who has died while on holiday (SWNS)

This harrowing video shows the desperate attempts to rescue a 14-year-old who drowned after getting her buoyancy aid trapped – under a SPEEDBOAT.

The footage – that has been released with permission of her family – shows the efforts made to save tragic Emily Gardner, 14, who drowned while on holiday a year ago.

It was shown to her devastated family on Monday morning during her inquest.

Emily was on a holiday with her friend and their family when the speedboat she was in capsized due to a freak wave.

But her inquest heard that while the rest of the group swam free, the webbing on the back of what the jury found to be an ill-fitting buoyancy aid became caught on a cleat on the boat, causing Emily to drown.

Emily Gardener, 14 who has died while on holiday (SWNS)
Emily Gardener, 14 who has died while on holiday (SWNS)

Desperate efforts were made to resuscitate her but she was pronounced dead in hospital after spending 25 minutes under the water close to Brixham Harbour in Devon.

An edited version of the film has now been released by Torbay Council after Emily’s parents called for changes in maritime law in their daughter’s name to prevent further tragedies.

Running for16-minutes, it shows the group of holidaymakers making their way onto the harbour’s slipway and then heading out to sea on jet skis and the 18ft Fletcher 155 speedboat.

The RNLI all-weather lifeboat can then be seen being prepared following an emergency call.

CCTV footage then shows the rescue attempt as lifeboat crews and nearby vessels try and recover Emily from the water.

RNLI Torbay volunteers John Heale and Ashley McInally eventually managed to haul Emily from the water and tried in vain to give her CPR but she died in hospital a short while later.

After the coroner in Emily’s inquest recorded a narrative verdict, her grieving parents Clive and Deborah Gardner launched a campaign for ‘Emily’s Law’ to be introduced.

This would involve making it compulsory for speedboat drivers to obtain a license before taking to the water.


They have also called for a law to be put in place to enforce all passengers on a boat to wear the right size life jackets after the inquest heard Emily’s buoyancy aid was too big and loose for her.

Mr and Mrs Gardner, of Gloucester, said in a statement: “When Emily died a life full of dreams and adventures was extinguished along with our hopes for our beautiful daughter.

“We would go everywhere together but on this Bank Holiday weekend one year ago we allowed our beautiful daughter to be independent from us, experience something new, something that she was excited about.

“But if we had known that power boat drivers do not have to have a licence or training we would never have let her go and she would still be alive today.

“We need people to become aware of the absence of legislation to ensure the safety of passengers on leisure craft and will campaign for laws to be brought in to close this legal loophole.

“We can’t bring Emily back but we don’t want another family to have to endure what we have been through.

“As a result we will be calling for the introduction of Emily’s Law.”

Floral tributes scene at the Brixham Harbour in Devon (SWNS)
Floral tributes scene at the Brixham Harbour in Devon (SWNS)

The inquest in Torquay, Devon, heard how the speedboat was being driven by 51-year-old Paul Pritchard, with his daughter Holly and her friends Gemma Gadsden and Emily also on board.

Mr Pritchard co-owned the boat with friend Philip Marr who was on a jet ski in front of the boat, while a second jet ski was ridden by Mr Marr’s son.

It was said to be travelling at about 25mph when the wave hit.

Both Emily and Gemma were initially trapped under the 18ft Fletcher 155 speedboat.

The scene at the Brixham Harbour in Devon after Emily Gardener died in the boating accident (SWNS)
The scene at the Brixham Harbour in Devon after Emily Gardener died in the boating accident (SWNS)

While Gemma managed to escape, Emily’s buoyancy aid, which was an adult extra-large size, snagged on a cleat.

It was estimated Emily was under the water for about 25-minutes.

Dr Atanu Mukherjee, consultant paediatrician at Torbay Hospital, established the medical cause of death as drowning.

DS Andrew Turner told the inquest that there had been a full joint inquiry with the Marine Accident Investigation Board and that no criminal offences were committed.

South Devon coroner Ian Arrow recorded a narrative verdict and described it as a ‘tragic incident which was quite unexpected.’


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