Woman dies after wheelchair plunge
Published 08/10/2011 | 09:42
A severely disabled woman has died after she fell from a harbour wall while strapped into her electric wheelchair.
Dorset Police said the woman, aged 20 and from Solihull in the West Midlands, was on the historic Cobb in Lyme Regis, Dorset, at around 12.45pm on Friday with her family waiting to take a charter boat cruise.
But she fell from the harbour wall and sank to the bottom of the three-metre-deep harbour in the wheelchair. Her family, the boat skipper and RNLI personnel from the nearby lifeboat station dived in and managed to free her, taking her unconscious to the surface.
She was flown by air ambulance to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester but later died, Dorset Police said.
They have launched an investigation into the death on the 19th-century harbour wall, which was popularised by the 1981 film The French Lieutenant's Woman starring Meryl Streep.
A police spokesman said: "They were on holiday in Lyme Regis and were waiting to go on a charter boat trip when tragically the wheelchair fell into deep water.
"Rescue efforts were made by the family, the boat skipper and later by emergency services, including coastguards, lifeboat and police. After considerable difficulty she was able to be freed."
Dorset Police have launched an investigation and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.