The inquest into the death of British woman Mary Atherton in April 2015 when she was travelling on the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship has heard how the members of the crew panicked when she fell between the ship and a pontoon leading to multiple skull fractures.
Atherton was trying to step from a tender onto the pontoon which was attached to the cruise ship when she was returning from a shore excursion to Cambodia.
She was 75 years old at the time of her death and had some mobility issues having had replacement hips and knees. One of the other passengers, Pamela Griffiths spoke to the inquest saying that after Atherton fell into the water the crew members did not know what to do to help her.
A marine safety expert, Christopher Metson, also gave evidence at the hearing and he said that the crew members should have stopped the disembarkation until the sea conditions improved and that Atherton should have been asked to remain seated until that time.
However, he said that he did not think the safety officer, Mathew Nicholls had done anything wrong but he could have asked Atherton to wait until the larger waves had subsided and run the thrusters on the tender.
He went on to say that Cunard, the owners of the Queen Elizabeth, had now implemented a number of safety measures to prevent this type of accident happening again including a ramp which would bridge the gap between the pontoon and the tender. In addition they have carried out more training, are using an additional crew member for disembarking and embarking onto a tender, and they will only allow passengers to use tender transportation if they can step across a gap of 45 centimeters unaided.