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According to an investigation, this was the rare occasion when a life jacket was not going to save your life.

A British teenager drowned during a horrific boating incident in which her automatic life jacket prevented her from escaping from a capsized pleasure cruiser. The freak incident happened on May 25, 2020, but the way he died was detailed in an accident report published on Thursday.


“Without a doubt, wearing a personal flotation device such as a lifejacket saves lives,” reads the investigation statement from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

“However, there are situations when wearing an automatically inflated lifejacket can be dangerous, for example, when in enclosed spaces such as housing areas and cabins.”

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Reportedly, 17-year-old Gillian Davey was on a pleasure cruise with her family off the Corniche coast when her pontoon boat, the Norma G, “overturned by a huge wave” near the notoriously treacherous Doom Bar sandbank, according to Cornwall Live. . Realizing their plight, Gillian and her mother Carolina donated their personal flotation device, which automatically inflated when the cabin filled with water.

And when Carolina removed her life vest and made a safe exit through the cabin window, her daughter kept it on and was trapped in a submerged room as a result.

Meanwhile, Gillian’s father, Stephen Davey – who was piloting the ship – and his son were thrown overboard when the wave hit. He is later rescued by a passing harbor patrol boat along with Gillian’s mother.

According to the report, Stephen had tried several times to bring down and save his daughter, but was unable to do so due to rough water and the fact that the ship “sank upside down and stern.”

A lifeboat eventually arrived and managed to pull the upstairs pontoon out of the water, so that Stephen could open the door and pull his daughter out. However, by that time, Gillian was unconscious and was not breathing.

The teenager was later taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital, where she was declared brought dead.

Authorities have blamed the father’s “limited boating experience” for the tragic incident.

“This tragic accident highlights the need for leisure boat users to be properly trained and equipped with the navigational equipment needed to stay safe,” said MAIB’s Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, Captain Andrew Moll. “Conditions at sea can change rapidly, boat owners should check the weather forecast and know the limits of their boat before heading out.”

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