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'Diamond' girl died in boat tragedy

Published 03/05/2015

The rescue operation saw lifeboats, coastguard teams and a helicopter deployed as well as specialist divers
The rescue operation saw lifeboats, coastguard teams and a helicopter deployed as well as specialist divers

The family of a teenage girl who died after she was trapped under a capsized speedboat have paid tribute to their "diamond".

Emily Gardner, 14, from Gloucester, died in the Brixham Harbour accident while on holiday with a friend's family, Devon and Cornwall Police said.

The teenager was on the 16ft vessel along with two other schoolgirls, both 15, and a 50-year-old man when it overturned yesterday.

In a statement released by police today, her family said: "Our beautiful Emily was a caring loving, gentle daughter and sister. She was full of life and had the world ahead of her. She was our diamond, now shining bright in the sky.

"She will be missed and forever in our hearts."

After news of Emily's death was revealed, scores of tributes were paid to the Chosen Hill School pupil.

Her aunt Sharon Ashley wrote on Facebook: "My beautiful beautiful niece love you so much sleep tight."

And her uncle Nick Taylor wrote: "Good night my amazing niece ... shine bright like a diamond."

The tragedy unfolded yesterday afternoon, with a rescue operation resulting in lifeboats, coastguard teams and a helicopter being deployed as well as specialist divers. Two men aged 18 and 50 from the Worcester area also helped with the rescue, using their jet-skis, before the emergency services arrived.

Mark Criddle, coxswain of Torbay's RNLI lifeboat, said crews arrived at the scene and found a speedboat capsized with a girl trapped.

He added: "We located the girl and brought her onboard the lifeboat where she was immediately given first aid by a doctor and paramedic who were members of the lifeboat crew."

Mr Criddle added that the three other people on board the boat had been rescued by other craft in the harbour.

He said: "We took the girl back to shore where she was handed in to the care of paramedics who took her to hospital.

"The three other people who had been aboard the overturned speedboat were also taken to hospital after being treated at the lifeboat station."

Emily was taken to Torbay District Hospital in a critical condition but died a short while later.

The 16ft speedboat, which was believed to be privately owned, has been recovered and taken to police premises for examination.

Detective Sergeant Andy Turner said a joint investigation involving HM Coroner and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) is under way.

He added: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends who are affected by this tragic incident.

"I would like to thank the public and the emergency services for their assistance in getting the casualties to hospital swiftly.

"Enquiries are ongoing and we are keen to speak to any witnesses who have not already come forward."

Brixham harbour, located on the southern side of Tor Bay, is home to one the largest fishing fleets in Britain and is also a popular tourist destination.

Among other tributes paid online to Emily included one from friend Bryony Elizabeth-Gorgina Fenemore.

She wrote: "RIP Emily, such a beautiful girl taken from us thoughts go out to all friends and family."

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