THE Solihull parents of a young disabled woman who drowned in Dorset last year have said they are ‘forever in the debt’ of the man who tried to save their daughter.
Clair Perkins, aged 20, died when her wheelchair plunged 12ft over the edge of a harbour in Lyme Regis on October 7.
The inquest into her death, held last week, heard it was most likely Clair had moved around and caught the joystick of the wheelchair, causing it to roll forward into the water. The former Lyndon School pupil had visited the resort last year for a holiday with her parents, Mark and Paula.
They told the inquest they had been within arms’ reach of their daughter when the tragic accident happened.
Mr Perkins, from Olton, said his daughter was ‘gone in a split second.’
Fisherman Harry May had jumped into the water to try to rescue Clair, who was still strapped into her wheelchair; but it was too heavy to pull up from the harbour bed.
RNLI crew and members of the coastguard also mounted an unsuccessful rescue attempt.
Michael Johnston, the coroner for West Dorset, recorded that Clair, who suffered from Niemann-Picka, a debilitating neurological disease, had died from drowning following an accident.
In a statement, the Perkins family said: “Our beautiful daughter was taken from us in an accident.
“We would like to thank Harry May the fisherman who continued to put his life in jeopardy, the dedicated members of the emergency services, RNLI and the staff at Dorchester County Hospital – they all tried in vain to bring Clair back to us.
“We will always be in their debt for what they did on that horrible day.”