Ellie Jackson, the sister of Dominic Jackson – the kayaker who died at sea earlier this year – is sharing the story of her family’s tragedy and calling on other kayakers to remember vital safety advice which could save lives

01 November 2017

The sister of Dominic Jackson, who lost his life when he got into trouble while kayaking around the coast of Scotland in February, is urging kayakers to always carry a means of calling for help when they head out to sea.

Ellie Jackson is working with the RNLI to get the safety message across. She said it is vital that a means for calling to help is easily accessible at all times.

RNLI lifeboat crews in Macduff, Buckie, Fraserburgh and Wick were all involved in the search for Dominic after he was reported missing when he didn’t return from a sea kayaking trip from Portsoy Harbour, Aberdeenshire.

Dominic was wearing a buoyancy aid but was unable to call for help when he got into difficulty because his phone was stored in his kayak in a place he couldn‘t access whilst paddling.

Missing kayaker Dominic Jackson

Dominic Jackson Credit: Find Dom: Search and Rescue Facebook group

His sister Ellie has now decided to share the story of her family’s loss in the hope that others can learn from Dominic’s death and increase their chances of survival in life-threatening situations.

“Dom was always adventurous and very fit so was keen to take up sea kayaking. It was very hard to know that he was out there somewhere and there was nothing I could do about getting him back. I will be forever grateful to the brave and wonderful people who helped to find him,” she said.

“I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what our family have been through. I want people to learn from Dom’s death and understand that taking a few extra steps before going on the water can make the difference between life and death,” stressed Ellie.

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In the past five years, RNLI lifeboats have saved the lives of 145 people who have got into trouble when kayaking. Sadly, there have been 10 kayaking fatalities.

The RNLI’s community safety manager, Jon Oxenham, said the organisation was grateful to have Ellie’s support.

The RNLI’s kayaking safety campaign aims to try and prevent kayakers from getting into the potentially life-threatening situation of being in the water but having no way of calling for help.

“Our lifeboat volunteers and lifeguards are there to help, but we can’t come to the rescue if we don’t know you’re in trouble,” stressed Oxenham.

“Our advice for kayakers is to always carry a means of calling for help, and keep it on you at all times when you’re kayaking. This means that if you capsize and get into trouble, you can call for help and increase your chances of survival,” stressed the community safety manager.

“Remember also to wear a personal floatation device (Buoyancy aid) and check the weather and tides before you go out. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back, and get the appropriate training or experience so you can enjoy your time on the water and stay safe.”

The campaign forms part of the RNLI’s work to halve the number of accidental coastal deaths by 2024.


14 February 2017

Police Scotland has confirmed that the body recovered on Thursday, 9 February 2017 during the search for missing kayaker Dominic Jackson is that of the 35-year-old.

A man’s body was discovered in the water near Lybster at around midday during air searches by the Police Scotland helicopter.

Wick lifeboat was launched to assist with the recovery.

In a statement, Inspector Kevin Goldie, who helped lead the Police search, said: “I can sadly confirm that the body recovered on Thursday has been identified as Dominic’s. His family has been made aware and we are supporting them at this very difficult time. This is not the outcome anyone wanted, and our thoughts are obviously with all of Dominic’s family and friends.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the community and volunteers for their support. I know it was a great source of comfort to his family and came as no surprise given the community spirit in the area,” continued the police officer.

“I would also like to express my gratitude to the teams who carried out painstaking searches both here in the North East and further North. The terrain is challenging and the dangers of operations like this can never be underestimated,” he said.

“Thank you also to members to the public who provided Police with information as we tried to piece together Dominic’s last movements. Your information was invaluable,” added Inspector Goldie.


9 February 2017

UPDATE 16:24

Police Scotland has issued a statement confirming that a body has been found during the search for missing kayaker Dominic Jackson.

Enquiries are ongoing to confirm the identity, however the 35-year-old’s family have been informed of the development.

The officer leading the Police Scotland investigation, Inspector Kevin Goldie, said: “I can confirm that a body was discovered in the water near Lybster at around midday today ( 9 February 2017) during air searches by the Police Scotland helicopter. Wick lifeboat was also launched to assist.”

“Formal identification has yet to take place, however the family of missing person Dominic Jackson has been updated and we are liaising closely with them,” he continued.

“Further information will be released when available,” said the inspector.


9 February 2017

Dominic Jackson has not been seen since he left on a sea kayaking trip from Portsoy Harbour, Aberdeenshire last weekend.

He was reported missing on 5 February 2017 when he failed to return home.

Now, Police Scotland officers have released pictures of the clothing that the 35-year-old may have been wearing when he went missing.

kayaking clothing which may have been worn by Dominic Jackson

The clothing Dominic Jackson may have been wearing


It is understood Dominic Jackson had purchased and could be wearing a bright yellow jacket with blue zips and black cuffs and waist band, and a blue and grey buoyancy aid with yellow zips.

Neither of the items have been recovered and members of the public are being urged to contact the police if they come across any similar objects.

A kayak, believed to belong to Dominic, was recovered near Lybster on 7 February 2017.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Inspector Kevin Goldie said: “Through extensive enquiries we have reason to believe that Dominic may have been wearing this jacket and buoyancy aid when he went missing. We have no positive sightings of these items as yet and I would urge anyone who comes across anything similar to contact police as a matter of urgency.”

Yesterday, foot searches stretching from Cullen to Buckie were carried out assisted by the Police Scotland dog unit, while specialist resources from the dive marine unit searched the coastline.

The Police Scotland helicopter has also been carrying out extensive sea searches stretching from Fraserburgh to Lossiemouth.

Inspector Goldie added: “Our colleagues in the North have also been carrying out searches on foot following the recovery of a kayak near Lybster yesterday, which we believe to be Dominic’s. This is challenging terrain and the dangers search teams are facing both there and on the North East coast cannot be underestimated.”

He urged members of the public helping in the search for Dominic to think about their safety.

“I am aware that some volunteers are carrying out searches independently, and I completely understand the need to help. I would, however, like to reiterate that your safety must come first and would encourage people to find other ways to assist Dominic’s family at this difficult time,” stressed Inspector Goldie.

“In particular I would completely discourage anyone from entering the water – we have not deployed specially trained staff today due to dangerous conditions and I would also advise members of the public to not put themselves at risk,” he continued.

“Searches led by Specialist Police Search Advisors (POLSAs) will continue tomorrow, with an ongoing assessment of our operation moving forward. Once again, anyone with information that could help should contact Police Scotland on 101,” added Inspector Goldie.


8 February 2017

The RNLI and Police Scotland have issued a reminder about coastal safety as volunteers continue to search for missing kayaker Dominic Jackson.

The 35-year-old was reporting missing on 5 February 2017 after he failed to return home from a weekend sea kayaking trip from Portsoy, Aberdeenshire.

The on-going search is being co-ordinated by Police Scotland and HM Coastguard, and has involved Macduff RNLI.

Family and friends are also conducting their own searches and have set up a Find Dom Facebook group to co-ordinate their efforts and share information.

Specialist Police Search Advisors (POLSAs) today (8 February 2017) co-ordinated further searches of the water and coastline assisted by the dive unit and air support.

Kayaker Dominic Jackson has not been seen since 5 February 2017

Macduff RNLI search for Dominic Jackson. Credit: RNLI

Volunteers helping in the search are being urged by both the RNLI and Police Scotland to be aware of coastal safety.

Mike Rawlins from Macduff RNLI said: “Over the past 36 hours we have seen many posts from people on social media offering to help with the search for Dominic and a number of members of the community have been part of an organised search today ( 7 February).”

“Whilst it is heartening and not at all unexpected, to see such a response from the communities along the coast, with more specialist search teams now being involved in the search for Dominic, I would urge members of the community to not start their own searches,” he continued.

“While walking around the coast in our area is a very safe and enjoyable activity, slips and falls do happen. With the poor weather we are experiencing today there could be an increase the risk of slipping or falling on wet ground,” stressed Rawlins.

“We understand that the community want to do as much as possible to help find Dominic, but if someone were to be injured by slipping and falling while searching, depending on the location of the accident, Coastguard teams and lifeboats may need to be involved, taking valuable resources away from the on-going search,” he urged.

“It goes without saying that the thoughts of everyone at RNLI Macduff are with Dominic’s family and friends at this very distressing time,” added Rawlins.

The kayak used regularly by missing Dominic Jackson

Dominic Jackson’s kayak. Credit: Find Dom – Search and Rescue Facebook group

Officers leading the search for Dominic Jackson are also urging volunteers to put their own safety first.

Inspector Kevin Goldie – who is now leading the police operation – has warned that with weather conditions not expected to improve, highly trained specialist officers are needed to tackle more dangerous and challenging terrain.

Ross Greenhill, UK Coastguard Coastal Operations Area Commander, has also urged volunteers not to enter the water during their searches.

Inspector Goldie added: “Once again I would like to thank the volunteers who have turned out for their support both yesterday and today – I cannot stress how much it is appreciated and I know it has been a great source of strength for Dominic’s family at this difficult time.”

“However weather conditions are not expected to improve today and as our search operation enters more difficult and challenging terrain, our priority must be your safety. I know that a number of volunteers have turned out with kayaks today to assist with the sea search, however given the conditions I would urge you to find other ways of supporting Dominic’s family,” he stressed.

“Police Scotland has specially trained staff who we are unable to deploy at this stage due to the deteriorating weather and dangerous conditions; I would advise members of the public also not to put themselves at risk,” urged Inspector Goldie.

“By no means does this mean the search is being scaled down, however we need the right people in the right places at this time. Our officers are trained in certain techniques and will be designated to certain areas – they have the skills and equipment needed to maximise the area we need to cover,” he stated.

“As always, anyone with information about Dominic’s whereabouts at the weekend are urged to contact Police 101, no matter how insignificant you think your information might be,” added Inspector Goldie.

On Tuesday, a piece of safety equipment, which is believed to have been attached to a kayak, was recovered in the water in the Portknockie area.

A paddle has also been spotted in the water near to where a kayak, which is similar to the one used by Dominic Jackson, was recovered off the Lybster coast overnight.