Jet ski tragedy of 14-year-old Harpenden schoolboy

Simon Satchwell

Simon Satchwell - Credit: Archant

A ‘freak accident’ was how a grieving father described the death of his 14-year-old son in a jet ski accident at an inquest yesterday.

Simon Satchwell died in Abu Dhabi last December on a holiday with his twin brother Lucas and father Christopher.

And the fact that there were no restrictions on 14 year olds riding jet skis unaccompanied by an adult riding with them so concerned Herts coroner Edward Thomas that he is writing to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to highlight the situation.

Mr Thomas said: “Fourteen-year-olds shouldn’t be going on jet skis on their own, supervised from a distance.”

The inquest heard that Simon, a pupil at Sir John Lawes School in Harpenden who lived in Milton Road in the town, had shared a jet ski with his father and Lucas on previous holidays in Tunisia and Lanzarote.

On Boxing Day last year, Mr Satchwell had hired two jet skis so that each of his sons could try riding them alone. He had pre-booked three jet skis for the final day of their holiday, New Year’s Eve.

He told the inquest there were no age restrictions in Abu Dhabi to prohibit the boys from riding the machines on their own.

Most Read

The three jet skis had gone out into open sea and then he and Lucas had slowed down to have a drink of water and were chatting near the shore.

He saw Simon around 100 yards away. His head was bent down and then he collided with his brother’s jet ski.

Mr Satchwell told the Abu Dhabi authorities that he believed Simon’s head had slumped because he hit the steering wheel and had lost consciousness before hitting Lucas’s machine.

While Lucas went to get help, Mr Satchwell had tried to revive Simon on the shore without success.

He told the inquest that five days later he had spoken to a forensic scientist who investigated such accidents. He thought it was likely that Simon had been heading towards his father and brother when he had hit a wave that had thrown him over the handlebars.

The impact had knocked him unconscious but the throttle of the jet ski had stayed on which had resulted in the collision with Lucas’s machine.

Mr Satchwell added: “He probably wasn’t expecting a wave but he hit a wave and went over the front. It was just a freak accident.”

Mr Thomas gave the cause of death as multiple fractures and voiced his concern that Simon had been riding a jet ski on his own when he was only 14.

He said: “Anything that has power can cause an accident and you need to be able to control and deal with it.

“Regulations are there for a reason to prevent them being on things they can’t operate and haven’t got the maturity for.”

Recording a narrative verdict which does not apportion blame Mr Thomas concluded that Simon had died of injuries sustained whilst riding a jet ski in Abu Dhabi on his own.