Jury in Beki Hellens inquest rule her death on a jet ski lake in 2015 was an accident
PUBLISHED: 20:14 16 June 2017
A jury has decided the death of a 22-year-old jet skier who was in collision with another rider on a water sports lake in Little Paxton in 2015 was an accident.
During an eight-day hearing at Peterborough Town Hall, the 10-member jury heard harrowing details surrounding the incident, on July 26, which left Beki Hellens, from Tithe Road, in Chatteris, with an “unsurvivable injury”.
After six hours of deliberation, the jury returned a narrative verdict, and the foreman read a short list of findings to a hushed council chamber, which included Beki’s parents, Belinda and Richard, and her fiancé, Paul Turner.
The jury ruled that a collision on the right-hand side of both jet skis had taken place. The other rider, Nicholas Rudd, was said to have been outside the area marked by the buoys on the five-acre lake and was described as inexperienced and unaware of the rules he should have followed that day. The impact, the jury said, was of sufficient force to throw Beki off the jet ski and cause her internal injury.
Earlier in the hearing, the jury was told Beki had only been out on the water for between 20-50 seconds when she and driving instructor, Mr Rudd, who was riding a jet ski for the first time that day, collided.
Beki died at Bedford Hospital two hours after the collision, which split her aorta and caused massive blood loss to her chest cavity.
Mr Rudd, 43, described the incident as a minor bump and maintained he was travelling behind Beki and that she made a sudden sweeping movement to the left and into his path. He denied he had ridden up and over Beki’s ski and hit her torso rather than the machine. He said the jet skis “came together on the left and Beki toppled off the back and fell into the water”.
Expert medical evidence and a post mortem report, however, suggested Beki’s injury could not have been caused by her simply falling off the back of the jet ski after a minor bump.
Dr Martin Goddard, who carried out the post mortem, explained the transection of the aorta was caused by “significant force” and that impact had to have come from the front, not the side.
He said the heart valve was “completely split” and the injury, which left four-and-half pints of blood in Beki’s lungs, was “incompatible with life”.
Crash investigator Roderick Pike estimated the combined speed of the jet skis at the time of impact was between 30-50 MPH. He told the inquest the damage was consistent with the Kawasaki XI, being ridden by Mr Rudd, travelling up and over the Yamaha Superjet machine, that Beki was riding.
Alastair Wilson, medical director of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, said in his evidence that the injury could not have been caused by Beki simply hitting the water and described it as a “high energy exchange injury”.
The jury heard evidence from Beki’s partner, Paul Turner, who broke down when he described how he begged his fiancé not to die as he pulled her into the shore. After Mr Rudd alerted him that something had gone wrong he jumped on another jet ski and rode out to where Beki was laying in the water.
“I knew I had to keep her head above the water so I took Beki from him [Mr Rudd] and he kept saying ‘what have I done, what have I done’. She was making a horrible sound, a rasping sound. She had a small mark on her head above her right eye, but her eyes were fixed.”
“She had the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen but they were dull and fixed and I shouted at her ‘don’t you die on me’. I felt so helpless, so useless, I just didn’t know what to do.”
Mr Turner, an experienced jet skier, described how he laid Beki on his chest and held onto the jet ski and told Mr Rudd to pull them gently into the shore.
Beki never regained consciousness and despite advance life-saving care, she was declared dead at hospital at 12.48.
After the hearing, Mr Tuner said all he had ever wanted was the truth of what happened that day to come out.
He, and Mr and Mrs Hellens, said they were disappointed it had taken so long for the inquest to be heard.