A 73-year-old grandmother died after a bungled cruise ship rescue bid plunged her into the icy sea in just her nightdress.
Janet Richardson, who was critically ill, fell into the Arctic Ocean as crew members attempted to transfer her to a lifeboat on a stretcher. Today a coroner recorded a narrative vedict, noting that Richardson was not wearing a life jacket and that the boat and the ship had not been tied together, Sky News reports.
Richardson fought to stay afloat for up to eight minutes without a life jacket as passengers looking on and shrieked in horror, the Daily Mail reported.
Her immersion in the 2°C water before she was pulled to safety using a long pole was a “significant contributory factor” in her death, a pathologist said in yesterday evidence.
Mrs Richardson, of Ousby, near Penrith, died in hospital three weeks later.
She and her husband George, 80, had been on a cruise on the ship Ocean Countess to see the Northern Lights when she collapsed with a gastrointestinal haemorrhage in March 2011.
As the ship was just off the coast of Norway the captain decided to transfer her to hospital and a she was strapped to a stretcher before crew attempted to pass her to a lifeboat which had pulled up alongside the ship.
But at the crucial moment the two vessels, which had not been tied together and were travelling at ten knots, began to move apart and she fell into the sea.
One woman fainted and others watched in horror as the stretcher hit the side of the vessel and Mrs Richardson “floated off” of it, witness Colin Prescott said.
“There was abject panic on the cruise ship – that is the only way I can describe it. Voices were raised, almost shrieking,” he added.
Mrs Richardson was treated in Norway before being flown to Cumberland Hospital, Carlisle, where she died on April 21.
The grandmother of eight was 18 stone and had a history of ill health, including cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Prior to the cruise, she had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia and was due for further medical treatment.
But the freezing temperatures had a “serious impact on her condition”, Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour said.
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