Mum-of-three fatally struck by boat propeller in front of family on holiday

A mum-of-three was fatally struck by a boat propeller in front of her family while on holiday, an investigation has revealed.

Laura Perry, 38, was enjoying a trip with her partner and three sons aged four, 14 and 16, when she suddenly fell from the rear deck after the boat hit a wall on the River Bure in Norfolk Broads.

Her partner and sons watched on in horror alongside her parents and 16-year-old niece as she became tangled in rope and the propeller on the 12.8m motor cruiser.

According to a Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report, Laura suffered multiple injuries and drowned on the third day of a five-day getaway in August 2019.

The report detailed that it was "likely" the mum may not have drowned if the boat, which was owned by Ferry Marina, was fitted with an adequate guardrail.

"Technical features of the dual-helm control system," were another issue highlighted by the report.

Laura's sister was driving the boat at the time.

The report found that the boat operator only took "about 10 minutes" with the training handover as the group's luggage was being loaded.

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"Both the boat handover and the documentation provided to the family were insufficient to ensure that the hire party were competent to drive a boat with dual-helm control," it was concluded.

Chief inspector of marine accidents Andrew Moll made a number of recommendations around improving guidance for people hiring boats in October 2020.

Moll called for the strengthening of person overboard prevention and handover procedures, among other things.

He said: "Large motor cruisers with sophisticated controls are becoming increasingly common and are often driven by members of the public who have limited or no proficiency in boat handling.

"It is imperative that complex multi-helm controls incorporate appropriate technical features and indications to minimise the likelihood of an inadvertent loss of control.

"Adequate protection around exposed deck areas is equally important in ensuring that no one falls into the water.

"Furthermore, handovers, including in-water demonstrations, and hire boat documentation need to be complete and rigorous in order to ensure that hirers have sufficient proficiency to safely handle the vessel in their charge.

"Following this investigation, I have made recommendations to enhance the governance, oversight and safety of hire boat operations.

"Such an assessment is essential to ensuring that another similar accident to this does not happen again."

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