In a heartbreaking interview with The Sunday Times magazine, Victoria Mulligan talks about the speedboat accident in Padstow that killed her husband and daughter

The survivor of a speedboat accident in Padstow has discussed the harrowing incident that killed her husband and daughter with The Sunday Times magazine.

The wife of TV advertising businessman Nick Milligan, Victoria, gave an exclusive interview to the magazine about the accident that happened on 5 May last year, ahead of an inquest into the pair’s death which began on Monday.

Published on 9 November, Victoria described how her and her family had spent a day out on their speedboat in Cornwall during the Bank Holiday weekend when things went tragically wrong.

Victoria had been at the helm of the family speedboat when her husband reached across her to turn the boat around and pushed the throttle to maximum, causing the boat to go into a steep throwing all six onboard into the water. Neither of them had attached the killchord.

“I can only presume that he was helping me to make the turn and slipped. The boat began racing away from us before starting a high-speed tight turn to come back to us”, she said.

“I have never felt more helpless. My family was in extreme danger. There was nothing I could do. I heard Nicko shout above the roar of the engine to stay in the middle of the circling boat, but I was closest to the beach and my instinct told me to swim there.

“As the boat went past I grabbed my four-year-old son, Kit, who was near me. I hadn’t factored in how hard it is to swim in a life jacket, so we didn’t get very far, but just far enough to save both our lives.

“When the boat came around a second time, we were just outside the circle and I felt the hull hit my chest – but what I didn’t feel was the propeller cutting my leg.”

Nick Milligan and eight-year-old Emily were both killed as a result of the accident, while Victoria, Kit and Amber suffered various injuries.

“I remember my 12-year-old, Amber, in the water screaming, ‘daddy’s dead, daddy’s dead’, her face covered in blood from her injured hand. It had been cut by the propeller, as had her left thigh.

After being rescued, Victoria was taken to hospital where surgeons had no choice but to amputate her leg, while they were able to save the leg of her son Kit.

18 months on, she told The Sunday Times magazine how the family is coming to terms with life without Nick and Emily.

“I think when something devastating happens you have two choices – you can be strong or hide away from the world. I’ve found out so much about myself and the human spirit.

“We underestimate how much we can cope with. The instinct to survive and the maternal instinct are incredibly powerful and together they get me out of bed in the morning when I want to crawl back under the duvet and hide from the pain.

“Amber, Olivia, Kit and I are a tight little unit now, with an incredible bond. I’m very open with my grief as they are with me. We support each other.”

After receiving help and support from the RNLI and Child Bereavement UK, Victoria has been fundraising for the charities, raising £500,000 from a Cornwall to London bike ride and an event called Emily’s Fun Day.

She also organised a one-off Night 4 Nick, raising £250,000 for the Cornwall Air Ambulance.

You can read the full interview in the latest The Sunday Times magazine, published 9 November 2014.

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