Boat deaths widow in safety plea

Braintree and Witham Times: Nick Milligan, with his wife Victoria and children, from left, Emily, Olivia, Kit and Amber died in a speedboat accident with Emily in Cornwall Nick Milligan, with his wife Victoria and children, from left, Emily, Olivia, Kit and Amber died in a speedboat accident with Emily in Cornwall

A woman who lost her husband and daughter in a speedboat accident has urged other boat users to be vigilant with safety and wear a "kill cord" at all times.

Victoria Milligan and her family were on holiday in Padstow, Cornwall, when they were thrown from their speedboat in May last year.

Her husband, Nick Milligan, 51, and their daughter Emily, eight, died in the incident.

Mrs Milligan lost a leg, and the couple's other children - Amber, then 12, Olivia, 10, and Kit, four - were injured.

An investigation by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) found that Mr Milligan, the managing director of Sky's advertising sales division, Sky Media, was killed after taking control of the steering from his wife.

Mrs Milligan was at the helm of "Milly" but was not attached to the boat's kill cord - a safety device designed to cut power in an emergency.

A report said that when Mrs Milligan turned the boat to starboard to begin another run along the Camel Estuary, Mr Milligan, who was sitting next to his wife, reached across and took control of the helm with his right hand and grasped the throttle with his left in order to execute a tighter, higher-powered turn.

As he did the family, from Wandsworth, south-west London, were thrown from the speedboat into the water. Because the kill cord was not attached, the engine did not cut out and the boat circled at high speed out of control, hitting them.

Mrs Milligan told the BBC she and her family had received full training before the accident and that her husband was "hugely safety conscious" and had always worn the kill cord.

In an appeal to other boat users, she said: "Please always wear a kill cord. Even if you are coming into shore or a pier, always put it on. Just be aware you are driving a powerful machine and always have the right training."

She has since raised more than £250,000 for Cornwall Air Ambulance and is hoping to raise more than £300,000 for the RNLI and Child Bereavement UK in a charity cycle ride, starting in Cornwall today.

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