Ship staff speak on death of grandma

Mary Atherton of Penwortham who died after being crushed on a cruise holiday.
Mary Atherton of Penwortham who died after being crushed on a cruise holiday.
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Evidence from around the world has been heard at an inquest into the death of a Penwortham grandmother.

Mary Atherton, 75, died after falling and being crushed between a pontoon and tender (small boat) on her way back from a day trip to Cambodia.

Cunard passenger liner Queen Elizabetht

Cunard passenger liner Queen Elizabetht

She had been holidaying with a friend onboard Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and had disclosed information on booking about mobility problems, a pacemaker and history of balance-affecting Ménière’s disease.

Yesterday Preston Coroner’s Court heard from staff on the ship on April 1, 2015, when Mrs Atherton died.

Elfren Talbucon. a seaman who had been on the platoon, spoke on the phone from Venice. His job had been to secure the tender to the platoon and assist passengers off the boat.

He said he had been trained to secure the tender with two lines to the front of the boat and two lines to the rear.

Atherton family barrister Sophie Cartwright questionned why CCTV footage appeared to show him attaching only one line to the front.

He said: “I did one rope on arrival and later on applied one more rope when the weather became bad at the forward and somebody else was doing the aft.”

He claimed the second line, applied before Mrs Atherton fell, was a shorter ‘breast line’ that might not be visible on CCTV.

He said that lines were elastic and a big wave could cause a gap to form. He added he had not been given information about passengers who needed assistance on the tender and had not received training for helping people with disabilities disembark.

Kamilla Wielgus, an escort on the Cambodian trip, spoke from India to say Mrs Atherton had appeared “very well” on the day of her death and although a slow walker, she did not consider her a safety risk.