Two sailing instructors involved in a speed boat accident that left an 11 year old brain damaged and others injured, have been giving evidence at Cardiff Crown Court today.
Nia Jones and Elleni Morus, both 17 at the time, were driving rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) when they collided at night in Cardiff Bay.
Twenty-four girls, aged 10-14 were on a sailing week and were returning to their accommodation across Cardiff Bay after an ice-skating outing on four RIBs.
Jones and Morus both deny speeding and failing to keep a proper look-out. They both told the court they had never driven in the dark before and at the time, they weren't aware that it's illegal to drive at night without navigation lights.Both admitted they felt "slightly uneasy" driving in the dark but had trusted the judgement of their coach, Nick Sawyer, who also trained them on the the boats. Nia said she was given no warning or reprimand from Nick but Elleni said he had warned her not to weave over the boats wakes the day before.When Oliver Willmott, prosecuting for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, asked Nia Jones if she had been speeding because her passengers on the boat had asked her to go faster, she replied: "No, I was going at a speed I felt comfortable with, I was driving to my best capabilities".
He then asked how this accident could have been avoided, Nia said: "If I'd had proper instruction and navigation lights on board".
Talking about the point of collision, Nia said: "It happened so fast. There was a hard impact then vibrations through the boat. I pulled the kill board and after a head count noticed 3 girls were missing from my RIB. I pulled one girl in from the water. Another had fallen from one boat to the other. There was a lot of confusion, everyone was in shock".Elleni Morus agreed she felt let down by Nick Sawyer who 'jumped to the conclusion that we were mucking around'. She said she slowed her RIB down to avoid wake waves and told everyone to hold on. She told the court she saw Nia's boat appear out if the darkness to the left of hers: "I steered sharply to reduce the angle of collision but there wasn't enough time between seeing her and stopping to avoid the crash".
When Mr Willmott challenged her that this happened because she was going at an unsafe speed, she said: "I think I was going at a safe speed".The trial continues.