Fumes from a generator leaked into the motor boat’s cabin after an exhaust and silencer system came loose. Kelly Webster, 36, and her daughter Laura Thornton, 10, were asleep and died as a result.
What has the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said?
An interim report said:
“The boat’s carbon monoxide sensor system did not alarm because it was not connected to a power supply. A bank holiday weekend on board an 11-year-old Bayliner 285 motor cruiser ended tragically when a mother and her 10-year-old daughter died. Initial findings indicate the deceased were poisoned by carbon monoxide poisoning.
A ‘suitcase’-type, portable, petrol-driven generator had been installed in the motor cruiser’s engine bay to supply the boat with 240V power. The generator had been fitted with an improvised exhaust and silencer system which had become detached from both the generator and the outlet on the vessel’s side. As a result, the generator’s exhaust fumes filled the engine bay and spread through gaps in an internal bulkhead into the aft cabin where the mother and daughter were asleep.
When the owner of the boat awoke in the boat’s forward cabin, he was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, but was able to raise the alarm. The mother and daughter could not be revived. The boat’s carbon monoxide sensor system did not alarm because it was not connected to a power supply. The use or permanent installation of these engines on boats, particularly in enclosed spaces or below decks, increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning”.
What does the MAIB recommend?
The bulletin said it was essential that:
- Engine exhaust systems were fitted by qualified engineers
- Engine exhaust systems were maintained to direct poisonous fumes outside the vessel
- People were vigilant and recognise the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning
- Correct positioning and regular testing of carbon monoxide sensors was essential
What Do The Specialists Say?
David Healey from Carter & Carter Solicitors in Stockport commented on this latest incident earlier:
“Carbon monoxide fumes can affect boats just as easily as houses. Given the general smaller size of boats it takes a much shorter time for lethal levels of carbon monoxide to accumulate which in this unfortunate case has resulted in fatalities.”
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