Council announces safety probe at ski school in Little Paxton after death of jet skier Beki Hellens

South Lake Ski School, Little Paxton,

South Lake Ski School, Little Paxton, - Credit: Archant

Huntingdonshire District Council is to carry out an investigation after a crash at a ski school in which a 22-year-old woman suffered fatal injuries, a pre-inquest review heard.

Beki Hellens, 22, died as a result of an accident in which her jet ski collided with another being ridden by her friend, Nicholas Rudd, at the South Lake Ski School, in Little Paxton, on July 26.

The review held at Lawrence Court, in Huntingdon, on Thursday (January 7), heard that Ms Hellens was an experienced member of the school and was out on the lake with Mr Rudd at the time.

The incident took place at about 11.45am at the ski school’s 8.5-acre lake, which is popular with jet ski enthusiasts.

The 22-year-old, from Chatteris, was pulled from the water after the incident and taken to Bedford Hospital, but died of her injuries a few hours later.

A post mortem was carried out by Dr Martin Goddard, a pathologist from Papworth Hospital, which revealed that Ms Hellens died of injuries sustained in the crash.

Owner of the South Lake Ski School, Paul Hammersley, told senior coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, David Heming: “On the day of the incident there was only two people on the lake and the lake is a fair size.”

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Questions were raised by Mr Heming as to whether rules and regulations are in place for the lake that need to be abided by lake users, for example a mandatory space between jet skis.

“I have a set of rules that is in writing. We do have a set of rules and go through everything with everybody before they go on the water,” said Mr Hammersley, “but it is very hard to police it, it remains an unregulated pastime.

“When you get experienced jet skiers they always end up in a group, that’s just the way it is.”

An investigation was later carried out by PC John Blood from Cambridgeshire police which found that there was extensive damage to both Ms Hellens’ orange jet ski and Mr Rudd’s white Kawasaki jet ski.

Damian Vaile, a lawyer acting for Paul Turner, Ms Hellens’ partner, told the hearing: “There was no evidence of pre-existing faults. Both the jet skis were in great condition prior to the collision.”

Officers from Huntingdonshire District Council announced at the hearing that the authority would be carrying out a safety investigation at South Lake Ski School under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The inquest was subsequently adjourned until later in the year to allow the coroner’s office to gather more information.