Woman, 59, dies after being taken unresponsive from Portsmouth Harbour in 'tragic accident'

A WOMAN has died after being taken from the water in Portsmouth Harbour despite the best efforts of lifeboat crew to save her life.

By Ben Fishwick
Sunday, 25th April 2021, 10:25 am
Updated Sunday, 25th April 2021, 3:11 pm

Hampshire police confirmed today the woman, 59, died yesterday. She was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham after being taken ashore at Camber Dock in Old Portsmouth.

It follows an incident at the Hovercraft slipway at 5.30pm. The coastguard previously said the woman was in her 40s.

An eyewitness has told The News members of the public quickly called 999 after seeing her enter the water near Clarence Pier.

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A woman taken from the water in Portsmouth Harbour in a 'life-threatening condition' on April 23, 2021. Picture: Stuart Vaizey

Johnny Sharkey, 45, who was visiting Southsea beach with his family from Reading, said: ‘It seemed like a tragic accident from a poor person who couldn’t help herself.’

He told The News: ‘Unfortunately there wasn’t much anyone could have done.

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‘The police (and) coastguard were called immediately by members of the public.

‘The woman was sat on the beach with an elderly man and he walked back to the car park.

‘She went into the water and swam out for a few minutes before putting her head under the water.

‘She didn’t bring her head back up then drifted past the hovercraft channel after it had docked.

‘Then we saw the small boat pull her out of the water in towards the end of the pier.’

The Hovertravel which runs services between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, confirmed its vessel Solent Flyer was not involved.

Crew alerted the pilot to the woman in the water and they raised the alarm. The coastguard helicopter, a police boat and Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (Gafirs) were called.

James Baggott, the coxswain of the Gafirs lifeboat, said: ‘We were tasked at 5.30pm to a person in the water near Portsmouth Harbour.

‘We launched within six minutes and we were on scene four minutes later. The casualty was recovered from the water.

‘One of my crew members is a Hampshire paramedic. He worked on the casualty with CPR with another of our crew members.

‘He transferred that casualty into the hands of the ambulance service at Camber Dock. The Coastguard rescue helicopter, Portsmouth coastguard rescue, and Hampshire police all attended as well.’

A police spokeswoman said: ‘We were called shortly after 5.45pm on Saturday 24 April to a report that a woman was unconscious in the water on Clarence Esplanade, Southsea.

‘Officers attended and a 59-year-old woman was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital. Despite best efforts, she was sadly pronounced dead on Saturday evening.

‘Next of kin have been informed and are being supported by officers.

‘Officers do not believe the Hovercraft to have been involved in any way at this time.

‘The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file shall be prepared for the coroner.’

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