Boat’s carbon monoxide sensor had no power

Kelly Webster and Lauren Thornton
Kelly Webster and Lauren Thornton
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Exactly one year after a Leyland mum and her daughter were tragically killed during a boating accident, their grieving family is still looking for answers.

Kelly Webster and Lauren Thornton died from carbon monoxide poisoning during a family trip to the Lake District on April 1 last year.

On the first anniversary of their deaths, new evidence can be reported that a carbon monoxide sensor on board the private yacht did not sound because it was not connected to a power supply.

The loving pair’s devastated family has also spoken to the Guardian of their upset over not being told why the police investigation is taking so long.

Kelly’s mum Nia Webster said: “It’s just heartbreaking that it’s a year on and we still don’t know anything.

“My heart is aching so much.

“People keep asking us what’s happening, both friends and family, and we just don’t know what to tell them.

“It’s such a shame. The good ones get taken away.”

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch is also working on the case, and produced a report following the incident which sheds some light on what happened.

It reveals that a portable petrol generator had become detached from an exhaust system, and that the boat’s carbon monoxide sensor did not alarm because it was not connected to a power supply.

Kelly, 36, and 10-year-old Lauren were with Kelly’s fiancé Matthew Eteson, 39, when they were all overcome by fumes and airlifted to hospital on that fateful Easter Monday.

It followed reports that Kelly and Lauren had suffered cardiac arrests aboard a boat, which was moored to a jetty in Bowness.

Initial reports suggested that the family, from Church Road in Leyland, suffered breathing difficulties on board the private Bayliner motor cruiser, which was owned by Mr Eteson.

But a report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch indicates that they died in their sleep.

It says: “A ‘suitcase’ type portable petrol-driven generator had been installed in the motor cruiser’s engine bay to supply the boat with 240v power.

“The generator had been fitted with an improvised exhaust and silencer system which had become detached from both the generator and the outlet on the vessel’s side.

“As a result, the generator’s exhaust fumes filled the engine bay and spread through gaps in an internal bulkhead into the aft cabin, where the mother and daughter were asleep.

“When the owner of the boat awoke in the boat’s forward cabin, he was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning but was able to raise the alarm.

“The mother and daughter could not be revived.

“The boat’s carbon monoxide sensor system did not alarm because it was not connected to a power supply.”

Mr Eteson was also taken to Royal Lancaster Infirmary but was released the following day.

The case is still being investigated and a full report is yet to be produced, but Kelly’s mum Nia says the family are being left in the dark over details of the investigation.

She said: “We’re upset that it’s the anniversary and we still don’t know what’s going on.

“We don’t know what route the police are going down and we don’t know why it’s taking so long.

“I’m sure they have their reasons but we feel like we can’t move on.

“We’re still mourning.”

She added: “We don’t have any plans to mark the anniversary; it’s too hard.

“We’ll lay some nice flowers on their graves, but we didn’t want to plan anything.

“They’re not forgotten though – they’ll never be forgotten.

“Everyone cared so much about them.

“They were really happy, bubbly people.”

Lauren, a pupil at St Anne’s RC Primary School who was described as ‘the double’ of her dad Neil Thornton, would have turned 12 next Friday, and it was Kelly’s birthday last month.

A spokesman for Cumbria Police said: “Police are continuing to investigate the cause of the deaths of Kelly Webster and Lauren Thornton.

“Police are in close contact with the families and they have been kept updated of the progression of the investigation.

“The police also remain in close contact with the coroner and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch about the investigation.”