Hope fades for mother swept away on adventure trip

A British woman is feared to have been swept to her death in a swollen Peruvian river after a canoe carrying her young family capsized.

Bridget Riedl-Laing, 26, was paddling down the Vilcanota with her Austrian husband, Rupert, and three children when the boat hit rough water.

Mr Riedl, who had his year-old daughter, Olivia, in a carrier on his back, was dragged under water but managed to release the carrier, right the boat and get the three children back inside. All were wearing lifejackets.

He also climbed back into the canoe and thought his wife must have swum to the bank when he could not see her. He raised the alarm after he paddled to the bank and fruitlessly scoured the shoreline.

Austrian consulate staff were looking after the distraught Mr Riedl yesterday as emergency crews searched near the ancient Inca city of Cuzco. They said there was little chance of finding Mrs Riedl-Laing alive.

She had been travelling through the Americas by camper-van on an adventure holiday with her husband and children Yannik, four, Fabio, two, and Olivia.

Mrs Riedl-Laing was at the front of the boat on the normally calm river with her husband, a qualified sports instructor, at the rear and the two boys in between them. But the river had been swollen by the effects of Peru's rainy season and the El Niño weather system.

Her parents, who are in Portugal, and brother Julian, who lives in Edinburgh, were planning to fly to Chile if the search failed to find Mrs Riedl-Laing by today. Her mother, Sandra Laing, who spoke to her son-in-law early yesterday, said: "They were hit by a bad patch of water. It had been calm up until then when the boat turned over. Rupert is distraught. The children are very resilient but they are asking where she is.

"I spoke to her on Monday evening. She was ecstatic. She was having a wonderful time. She was saying how great it was and they were going back and said, 'Mum, we'll take you back next time'.

"She is absolutely wonderful, she's bubbly, outgoing, always has a smile and a laugh. She's a very positive young lady, very strong and determined."

The couple met when Mrs Riedl-Laing, originally from Scotland, went to work in Austria as an au pair. They lived in Salzburg where she combined working as an artist with her role as a mother.

The family's trip through the Americas was expected to last eight months and began in September. As they continued their journey, they were posting photographs and details of their trip in German and English on a website, entitled "2 and 3 halves on a journey from Canada to Chile". It started in Seattle, in the north-west United States, then snaked up and round British Columbia in Canada, down the western coast and into Mexico.

From there, the family took their increasingly battered van through dirt tracks in Belize and into Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica before reaching Colombia in South America.

Peru was their first stop after Ecuador and they had been about to travel to Bolivia and follow the road down to the southern-most tip of Chile and back up to the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, via Tierra del Fuego.

The family had seen bears and chipmunks in Canada and celebrated one of the children's birthdays at Disneyworld. They were also forced to make a trip to hospital in Central America because Mrs Riedl-Laing broke an arm, which had been trapped in the sliding door of their campervan.

The couple's last dispatch was on 1 March, telling how the van had broken down in the thin, mountain air at 5,000 metres and they had almost run out of money. After a 26-hour tow to the capital, Lima, they said they were leaving that day.

The Foreign Office said her family in Britain was being kept informed of developments. A spokeswoman said the search early yesterday had failed to find Mrs Riedl-Laing.

Mrs Riedl-Laing's brother Julian said: "I cannot take this in at the moment."

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Mentor for people who have offended

This is an unpaid volunteer role. : Belong: We are looking for volunteers who ...

Cover Supervisor, Folkestone School - full time and part time

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We have urgent and multiple vaca...

Welsh Speaking German Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Full time WLM German Supply T...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher - French

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Modern Foreign Language Teach...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?