Forensic experts examine lock death boat

Published: Saturday, 01 August 2009

FORENSIC experts have made a thorough examination of the narrowboat involved in the death of the woman in an Oxford Canal lock.

The boat Harry had been craned out of the water so that forensic evidence, photographs and measurements could be taken, so that if there was anything to suggest there was any doubt about the boat or anything else, then it can all be taken into account. It has now been returned by lorry to the hirers Kate Boats of Warwick.

Amanda Chapel was at the tiller whilst the boat was in the lock, and fell from the deck, and though her husband Andrew, who was working the narrow lock, dived in, he was unable to rescue her, and paramedics were unable to revive her. The family members are devastated by their most tragic loss.

Of the accident Inspector Helen Robertson, of Thames Valley Police, explained:

"The woman was steering the boat while two of the family, the husband and one of the children, were working the lock gates.

"For some reason the boat bumped or nudged the side wall or gates of the lock and the lady has lost her balance and fallen into the water. As a result of losing her balance she sustained injuries from the boat or the lock as well."

The inspector stated that there appeared to be nothing to indicate the incident was anything other than a tragic accident.

British Waterways, the Health and Safety Executive and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch have been notified, and an inquest is expected in the near future.

The hirers, Kate Boats, have been in business for 25 years, with the boat Harry a 52ft narrowboat sleeping six, built on a Colecraft shell. Though Kate Boats hire out traditional stern boats, this was a cruiser stern boat.