Charter boss faces manslaughter charges for deaths
The director of a Southampton sail training business is facing charges over the deaths of four men on the yacht Cheeki Rafiki in 2014. Doug Innes has been charged with four counts of gross negligence manslaughter and Stormforce Coaching, the company that owned and operated the Beneteau 40.7, has been charged with breaking maritime shipping laws.
Skipper Andrew Bridge, 21, and crew James Male, 23, Paul Goslin, 56, and Steve Warren, 52, lost their lives after the yacht owned and operated by Stormforce Coaching lost her keel and capsized on 16 May 2014 while on passage between Antigua and the UK.
The crew had made contact with Stormforce Coaching the day before the crew’s personal locator beacons were activated. The call, made by Andrew Bridge, was to say that the yacht was taking on water. The upturned hull was later located by the US Navy and the yacht’s liferaft was found still attached to the yacht.
A Marine Accident Investigation Branch report stated that the lack of damage to the rudder or any other part of the hull meant ‘It is unlikely that the vessel had struck a submerged object. Instead, a combined effect of previous groundings and subsequent repairs to its keel and matrix had possibly weakened the vessel’s structure where the keel was attached to the hull.’
Stormforce Coaching issued the following statement soon after the charges were brought: “We can confirm that a summons has been issued against both Stormforce Coaching and Doug Innes in respect of matters arising out of the loss of Cheeki Rafiki in May 2014 – our legal advisers are currently reviewing the evidence which the prosecution has served upon us in this respect.
Our thoughts continue to be with the crewmembers’ families during this time.”