Saturday 19 October 2019

Woman who died after becoming trapped under water was only one in kayak group with mobile phone on her, report finds

Delay of 37-minute delay in calling rescue services after tragic accident

Brita Waters
Brita Waters

Ralph Riegel

AN EXPERIENCED kayaker died in a freak accident in a Kerry river after the lack of a mobile phone meant there was a 37-minute delay in raising the alarm.

Brita Waters (35) died when she was knocked from her kayak after it hit a submerged rock in the Roughty River outside Kilgarvan in Kerry.

Tragically, she was then swept down into a sharp drop on the river and she became trapped by a submerged log, which caught her under the level of the water.

Ms Waters, originally from Baldoyle in Dublin but who lived in Douglas in Cork city, was the secretary of Lir Canoe Club.

READ MORE: Family of tragic kayaker appealing for donations to 'Make-A-Wish' in her honour

Her death - on November 4, 2018 - shocked the tight-knit Irish water sports community.

Ms Waters was part of a group of five experienced kayakers enjoying an outing on the river, but a Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report found but she was the only one with a mobile phone in a waterproof plastic case.

The other kayakers had mobile phones in cars parked some distance away.

Kayaking. Stock image
Kayaking. Stock image

After Ms Waters was trapped under the water by the submerged log and desperate efforts by her friends to free her were not working, one had to run to a nearby road, borrow a phone from a motorist and raise the alarm.

READ MORE: Tributes for Kilgarvan kayaking accident victim Brita

"The casualty had a phone and all the other mobile phones were in the cars, which resulted in a delay of about 37 minutes in calling the emergency services, the MCIB report found.

"In the event, it took just over an hour to free the casualty from the river after the emergency services had arrived. During this time the casualty’s head had been underwater.

"The river was remote and the means of communication available to the group was based on a mobile phone carried by the casualty."

It was only with extreme difficulty that members of multiple emergency services were finally able to remove the submerged log and allow the kayaker to be freed.

MCIB recommended that an emergency means of communication be available for all such challenging river descents.

"Kayaking groups making descents on remote rivers of Grade 3 and higher should carry registered Personal Locator Beacons. This will enable early alerting of the rescue services in the event of an emergency," it recommended.

Tragically, Ms Waters had been attempting to safely exit the river into a side channel and avoid the area in question when she struck a submerged rock and was washed out of her kayak down onto the sudden drop where the log was submerged.

"When the emergency services arrived efforts were made to move the log. After about an hour-and-a-half the log was removed and the casualty released and carried ashore. Once ashore the casualty was attended to by a doctor from the ambulance service and pronounced dead," the report found.

Canoeing Ireland last year paid tribute to Ms Waters and said the entire Irish water sports community was shocked and saddened by her death.

Kayaking. Stock image
Kayaking. Stock image

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