Would-be rescuers miss a call for help

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DEC. 23 — The crew of a Scottish cabin cruiser earlier this year passed by a teenage girl on a rigid-hull inflatable boat who was flailing her arms. The boat crew reported they thought she was greeting them, but instead she was calling for help. The girl’s father and sister later drowned after they fell overboard into Milarrochy Bay near Loch Lomand.

A report describing the March 13 accident, released Wednesday by the country’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, said that Angus Buchanan, who was 45 and of Glasgow, and his 13-year-old daughter, Holly, were thrown overboard after their RIB unexpectedly lurched to port, news reports say. Buchanan’s other daughter, 15-year-old Chloe, attempted to rescue her father and sister but was unsuccessful.

“However, despite courageous attempts to rescue her sister, the effects of the cold water forced [Chloe] to reboard the RIB, after which she lost sight of both her younger sister and her father,” the report says. None of the Buchanans were wearing PFDs.

Chloe Buchanan then attempted to get the attention of the crew of a passing boat by waving her arms, according to news reports. “However, the people on the cruiser mistook this gesture as a greeting, not one of alarm, and they continued, oblivious of the emergency, passing between the RIB and the two in the water,” the report says.

The report concluded that the accident was caused by loss of oil from the boat’s steering system, causing the boat to veer to port.

— Jason Fell