A teenager has died and eleven others have been taken to hospital after a speedboat crashed into a buoy this morning in choppy conditions.
The teenager was injured when the rigid inflatable boat carrying 12 people hit the navigation buoy near the entrance to Southampton Water, Hants, as high winds battered the south coast.
Two others were thrown into the water with minor injuries, but the teenager, who was on the charter boat with family members, suffered life-threatening injuries from the high-speed crash.
A passing pleasure boat rushed to the scene, followed by lifeboats, and the injured were carried ashore before being taken to Southampton General Hospital for treatment.
Launch of Southampton Harbor Master inspecting a buoy off Hythe, Hampshire, after twelve people were taken to hospital. A 15-year-old girl was pronounced dead in hospital after the collision near Southampton around 10.10am.
Tragically, the girl, who was conscious when brought ashore, later died in hospital from her injuries.
The girl’s next of kin have been notified and are being supported by specialist officers from Hampshire Police.
A local sailor said conditions in the Solent were very difficult on Saturday, with strong spring tides coupled with winds of 8 on the Beaufort scale at times – up to 46mph.
He said navigation beacons in the Solent were usually very large and could be the size of a small car.
“In a high-speed hardtail, if you hit something at high speed, everyone is thrown forward like on a fairground ride.
“People usually hang on to the seat in front, so you often see crush injuries because it’s decelerating so fast, so you see things like crushed ribs.”
No one in a RIB would be tied down, he said, because if the ship were to roll over, everyone would be trapped underwater.
An RNLI spokeswoman said tonight: ‘It was a tragic accident that happened around one of the navigational buoys off Netley at the top of Southampton Water.
“It was very windy there, but the pleasure boat that went there was very capable.
“Following the RIB and buoy coming together, 12 people had to be rescued – some were walking injured and others were fine.
“Two people were thrown into the water. The girl wasn’t one of them, but there are ramifications of crashing into anything at high speed and she suffered impact injuries.
“She was with a family that was relatively unscathed.
“The young girl was extracted by a private pleasure boat which was first on the scene and she was conscious at the time.
“Lifeboats assisted and people were taken ashore and then taken to hospital by ambulance.
“I understand the boat had left Southampton and was on a water journey for about an hour before returning.”
It is understood the girl and her family boarded the boat at Ocean Village Marina in Southampton, but it is unclear where the girl is from.
A local sailor said conditions in the Solent were very difficult on Saturday, with strong spring tides coupled with winds of 8 on the Beaufort scale at times – up to 46mph. Pictured is Netley Beach, Hampshire
Hampshire Police said tonight they had launched an investigation in conjunction with HM Coastguard and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.
A Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson said: ‘We are working alongside the Coastguard and Marine Casualty Investigation Branch following a collision between a RIB and a buoy at Southampton Water off Netley, towards 10:10 a.m. this morning.
“Twelve people on board were then taken to hospital.
“Unfortunately, one of the passengers, a 15-year-old girl, was pronounced dead in hospital.
“The girl’s next of kin have been notified and are being supported by specialist Hampshire Police officers.
“Investigations into the circumstances are still ongoing and we ask anyone who witnessed the incident, or perhaps captured footage of it, please contact the police.”
A spokeswoman for HM Coastguard said: ‘Three lifeboats, a Coastguard rescue team and the ambulance service were all called in to help.
“There were injuries and the 12 people on board were taken ashore and taken into the care of the ambulance service. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has been notified.
A boat owner at Ocean Village Marina today said he saw the damaged RIB, run by charter company Seadogz, being brought back to port after the tragic accident.
Seadogz, which describes itself as “the original extreme RIB charter experience,” has been making out-of-marina trips for about eight years, but was not sailing today. His other boat was moored at his dock.
He said: ‘I was coming back around 11am and immediately could see something was wrong.
“The port tube of the RIB had deflated so that it had obviously hit the navigation buoy on the forward left side of the boat.
“The RIB was brought in by one of the guys from Seadogz so I guess it was the skipper.
“None of the passengers on board and the boat was met by the harbor master.
“Seadogz operates two boats and one is still docked here but the one in the accident has obviously been washed away.”
“They are very capable, all-weather boats and it was choppy out there yesterday, but nothing a boat like that can’t handle.
“It is a terribly tragic accident.
“The navigational buoys don’t move, so it’s a bit of a mystery.”
“If I was guessing I would say maybe there was a malfunction in the boat, maybe in the steering, or something could have obscured the skipper’s view, like a standing passenger.
“These boats can easily do 50 knots and if you hit a buoy at over 30 knots it will be quite an impact.
“When I got to the port there were loads of ambulances and paramedics and I saw a guy on a stretcher with a neck brace who didn’t look well.
“I guess the poor girl had already been taken to hospital.
“There were also a lot of RNLI and MAIB workers.”