Two charged over girl’s speedboat death in Solent

Two men have been charged after a 15-year-old girl was killed in a speedboating accident in the Solent.

Emily Lewis died when the rigid inflatable boat (Rib) hit a buoy in Southampton Water on 22 August 2020. Twelve people were taken to hospital after the crash in which two people were thrown overboard.

A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) found that shortly after 10am the teenager was “catapulted into the handrail directly in front of her seat” when the Rib crashed into the north-west Netley buoy in Southampton Water at 38.4 knots (44 mph). It found that all passengers on the boat suffered injuries of some kind.

An inquest into her death heard that Emily, from Park Gate near Southampton, was taken to nearby Southampton general hospital, where she died of an upper abdominal injury.

It is understood that Emily’s father, Simon, mother, Nikki, and 19-year-old sister, Amy, were also on the boat, and that both her mother and sister suffered broken arms.

Michael Lawrence, 54, who was driving the boat, has been charged with gross negligence manslaughter.

Michael Howley, 51, who owns the company that operated the boat trip, Seadogz, has been charged with failing to take all reasonable steps to secure that the boat was operated in a safe manner.

In a statement released previously through Hampshire constabulary, her family said: “We are all in shock that our beautiful daughter and sister is no longer with us, and words just don’t seem available to express our deep sense of loss.”

Stuart Parkes, head teacher at Brookfield School where Emily was a pupil, described her as “kind, compassionate” and as a “bright, conscientious student”.

Rosemary Ainslie, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) special crime division, said: “The CPS has today authorised Hampshire constabulary to charge two men in relation with the death of Emily Lewis, 15, who was in a boat which struck a buoy in Southampton Water on 22 August 2020.

“The CPS reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against these defendants are active and that they have the right to a fair trial.

“It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice proceedings.”