Dangerous Jet ski incident luckily avoided

A north-east lifeboat officer has warned powerboat and jetski owners to test their kill cord mechanisms before putting to sea after a potentially deadly runaway jetski incident was avoided on Friday.

Lifeboat volunteers from Sunderland RNLI lifeboat station scrambled into action shortly before 2pm to assist a Personal Water Craft (PWC) rider who had fallen from his craft half a mile north of Roker Pier.

The vessel was spotted by Sunderland coastwatch about half a mile north of Roker Pier.

The rider, a 39-year-old male from Brierley Hill, West Midlands, managed to swim ashore to safety.

Jon Pollock, lifeboat crew at Sunderland RNLI Station said: ‘The rider explained to the coastguard that he had fallen from his ski, but the safety kill cord did not operate correctly. This caused the ski to continue running heading into the open sea.’

After several attempts the lifeboat helmsman skilfully managed to steer the lifeboat close enough to the moving ski to allow a line to be attached and the engine stopped.

Once the ski was checked for safety, a towline was attached to it from the lifeboat.

The unmanned ski was then taken in tow and taken to Sand Point slipway where it was recovered from the water onto the rider’s trailer.

Jon added: ‘This incident highlights the importance of a fully operational kill cord being onboard watercraft. In this case it was being correctly worn, but failed to operate due to a stiff mechanism. The RNLI recommend that before any watercrafts that are equipped with a kill cord are taken to sea, the operator should deliberately operate the kill cord to confirm it is operating correctly.’