Child drowns as yacht club boat flips

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 August, 2005, 12:00am

Two other boys and their teen instructor are pulled from the sea by a rescue crew

An 11-year-old boy drowned, while two nine-year-old boys and a teenaged instructor were rescued yesterday after their dinghy capsized off Stanley during a sailing course.

Initial investigations showed the 16-foot sailing dinghy, being used for a course run by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, capsized amid large waves and strong winds, trapping the 11-year-old boy underneath, police said.

The tragedy happened just before midday as the crew sailed with two other training yachts from Middle Island to Stanley Bay. The three vessels were escorted by a rescue boat with three instructors aboard.

Jonathan Chin Kin-chun, 11, two nine-year-old Britons - Hugo Manning and Antony Bamker - and their 17-year-old female assistant instructor were wearing life jackets when the yacht capsized about 1km off Bluff Head in Stanley just before noon, officers said.

Two Marine Police launches, two fireboats and a boat with divers from the Fire Services Department were deployed after a 999 call.

The nine-year-old boys and the assistant instructor were brought on board the accompanying rescue boat before a Marine Police launch arrived five minutes later, a police spokesman said.

Officers were told Jonathan was trapped and the instructors could not free him.

'Six officers without breathing apparatus jumped into the water before divers arrived. The boy was found trapped tightly by a wire and some ropes in the water under the [upturned] boat,' said Marine South divisional commander, acting Superintendent Heung Wai-leung. 'The victim was immediately given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by two officers in the water as he had lost consciousness. Other officers tried to cut him free with knives.'

He said it took about 10 minutes to free the boy because officers could not cut the wire with their knives and had to resurface to collect bolt cutters.

Jonathan was taken aboard the Marine Police launch where he was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and cardiac massage. The unconscious boy was then ferried to a Marine Police base in Aberdeen before being taken to Ruttonjee Hospital. He was declared dead at 1.35pm.

Officers believed the victim had drowned. They said there were no suspicious circumstances. A police spokesman said an autopsy was likely to be carried out to find the cause of death.

It is understood the victim lived in Happy Valley.

In a statement issued last night, the yacht club confirmed 'a fatal accident occurred earlier today' and said it was co-operating fully with a Marine Police investigation into the tragedy.

Jonathan was attending the club's Multi-Water Sports Course. Police said the course involved activities between 9am and 4.30pm. According to the club's website, participants were required to be competent swimmers, with activities including sailing, kayaking, raft building and wake boarding.