An inquest has heard how a bungled rescue operation, which left a critically ill woman in 2C water for eight minutes, was a “significant contributory factor” in her death.
Janet Richardson, who was a passenger onboard an Ocean Countess cruise in 2011, was taken ill while on the Northern Lights sailing. However, while she was being transferred from the ship to the lifeboat on a stretcher, the two vessels drifted apart, plunging the 72-year old into the North Sea.
At the hearing a witness revealed that the two ships were not tethered together, despite both travelling at around 10 knots. Richardson was eventually pulled to safety using a long pole but died in hospital three weeks later.
The Daily Mail quoted Colin Prescott, a witness as saying: “I saw the stretcher hit the side of the vessel. They tried to hold on to it, but it slid down vertically like a hinge and the blanket came off. Mrs Richardson went one way and the stretcher went the other. She just floated off.’
He added: “There was abject panic on the cruise ship – that is the only way I can describe it. Voices were raised, almost shrieking.”