Cornwall speedboat crash victim 'doted on family'

Nick Milligan and family Nick Milligan and his eight-year-old daughter Emily (left) were killed on Sunday

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A TV executive who died in a speedboat crash which also killed his daughter was a loving father who doted on his family, his brother has said.

BSkyB sales boss Nick Milligan, 51, and eight-year-old Emily were thrown from the boat in the Camel Estuary, off Padstow, north Cornwall, on Sunday.

Four other family members struck by the boat were taken to hospital.

Police and the Coastguard praised "brave and heroic" efforts made by local people to rescue the family.

Round in circles

Supt Jim Colwell, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "If people hadn't come to their assistance in the manner they did, I'm confident that this incident would have been far worse in terms of the overall death toll."

The injured family members were hit by the vessel - a Cobra rigid inflatable boat (rib), built by APV Marine in Christchurch, Dorset, which can reach speeds of about 50mph (80km/h) - while it was going round in circles.

The boat, which belongs to the family, who are from Wandsworth in south London, was stopped after a local waterskiing instructor jumped on board.

The four injured are a 39-year-old woman and a four-year-old boy - described as having serious, potentially life-changing injuries - and and two girls aged 10 and 12, who have minor injuries. All are said to have leg injuries of varying degrees of severity.

Mr Milligan's brother, Max, said his brother had built his dream family home in the area.

Max Milligan: 'That he and my delightful niece died in their favourite place... provides us with a tiny glimmer of light.'

He told a press conference Mr Milligan was an "extremely loving father, husband, son and brother, who doted on his family".

"As children and teenagers, we spent many summers and New Year's Eves in Cornwall," he said.

"That he and my delightful niece died in their favourite place at the end of a gloriously sunny bank holiday weekend provides us with a tiny glimmer of light."

Mr Milligan had been managing director of Sky's advertising sales division, Sky Media, since 2004.

A company spokesperson said: "Everyone at Sky is deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic accident involving the Milligan family.

"Nick has been a great friend and colleague for many years and his loss will be felt across our company and the industry. Our very deepest sympathies are with his family at this time."

'Charming, twinkle-eyed man'

Tributes have also been paid by other members of the media.

Stefano Hatfield, executive editor of The Independent newspaper, wrote on Twitter that Mr Milligan was "one of the industry's best and loveliest".

Nick Milligan's career

  • Joined the television industry in 1983 at Television South (TVS)
  • Moved to Central Television in 1986 and went on to Thames Television in 1988, staying until 1992
  • Was on the team which established the UK Gold and UK Living channels
  • Became a founding director of Channel 5 in 1996 and stayed at the station until 2003, its first profitable year
  • Became managing director of Sky Media in June 2004

Source: Media Guardian

He said: "Whenever I think of my encounters with Nick Milligan over 20 years, all I can recall is laughter. Lovely, charming, twinkle-eyed man."

Former Financial Times media correspondent Ben Fenton tweeted Mr Milligan was "one of the kindest, nicest funniest men I have ever met."

Police and investigators from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) have begun an inquiry into the incident, co-ordinated by Devon and Cornwall Police.

Supt Colwell said a mechanical examination of the boat had taken place, carried out by forensic experts and MAIB inspectors to identify the cause of the "sad and tragic" incident.

About 25 officers were working on the investigation in various roles, and reports were being prepared for the coroner, he added.

The sunny bank holiday weather had drawn a lot of visitors to the harbourside, and the surrounding waters of the Camel Estuary were said to have been calm on Sunday afternoon when the accident happened.

Video shot by a witness showed the moment the speedboat was brought under control

'Heroic' rescuer

At about 15:50 BST, Falmouth Coastguard received a number of reports from members of the public that six people had been thrown from a speedboat.

Dog walker Simon Lewins, from Wadebridge, said he watched as a big, powerful boat going "a bit too fast" suddenly turned right, "depositing" people into the water.

"It kept going off in ever decreasing circles. The screams coming from the people in the water were pretty bad."

The man who leapt on to the out-of-control speedboat, from another vessel he went alongside with, was named locally as Charlie Toogood, from Camel Ski School.

It is thought Mr Toogood got a rope around the propeller of the out-of-control vessel in a bid to reduce its speed before jumping on board. He then managed to stop it and take it away.

"I tell you what, this guy is a hero," Mr Lewins told the BBC.

Coastguards then helped some of the injured as a helicopter landed on the beach, he added.

The injured were being treated at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said.

Matt Pavitt, the Coastguard sector manager for North Cornwall, said the injured four were "badly shaken up".

He said the 8m (26ft) long vessel had a "very, very powerful engine" and there were reports it was "seen to veer over to one side, causing all six people to end up in the water", resulting in a number of serious injuries.

At a press conference, Mr Pavitt said: "Without doubt, without his [Mr Toogood's] intervention, we could have been dealing a far more serious situation."

Coastguards said there was no speed limit in the area where control was lost of the boat.

Police said they were examining if the vessel had a so-called kill cord - a line attached to the pilot designed to cut the engine if they were thrown away from the helm.

Officers said the presence and state of a kill cord would be a "key focus of our investigation".

Investigators appealed for anyone with photographs or video clips to come forward.

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