Two disabled people dead and third person critical after lake tragedy

Police recovered the bodies after a motorboat overturned near Okehampton in Devon.

Police recovered the bodies of the two missing people from Roadford Lake near Okehampton on Thursday (Joe Giddens/PA)
Police recovered the bodies of the two missing people from Roadford Lake near Okehampton on Thursday (Joe Giddens/PA)

Two disabled people died and a third person remains seriously ill in hospital after their motor boat capsized in Devon.

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

The families of the two people reported missing have been informed of the development and are being supported by specially-trained officers, Devon and Cornwall Police said.

Formal identification is yet to take place, they added.

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.

This is an extremely distressing incident and our thoughts are with all of those involved and their loved ones, who we are working closely with to offer help and support wherever we can

Chief Superintendent Dan Evans

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 enquiry are open and being examined.

“As with all our investigations, front and centre are considerations about whether any urgent safety information needs to be issued to the industry and operators.

“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.

(PA Graphics)

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.”

Chief Superintendent Dan Evans said on Thursday: “This is an extremely distressing incident and our thoughts are with all of those involved and their loved ones, who we are working closely with to offer help and support wherever we can.

“Every effort has been made to locate the two people who remained unaccounted for as fast as possible.

“Tragically, we can confirm that the bodies of two people were located and recovered this afternoon.”

The force said the boat has been secured.

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