For Heddon Johnson and his wife Tor, stepdaughter of the Marquess of Queensberry, the image had a tragic resonance.
The 60-year-old building conservationist turned on the television that Sunday evening and, he tells me: “It was appalling. Everything about the death of my son came back.”
Well, yes. Only to be expected. And his son’s death was indeed tragic and awful.
But expecting it to be the catalyst for yet more legislation is ridiculous.
Tristan Douglas-Johnson was struck by the propeller of a speeding rigid inflatable boat (Rib) 13 years ago, on September 22 2000, aged 20. He had just got a job as an apprentice marine engineer and was trying the Rib at the Southampton Boat Show when it overturned, throwing him and his two fellow passengers into the path of its propellor.
As with the Padstow boat, the engine’s kill cord, a safety device designed to cut off the engine and stop the boat, was not attached to the driver.
But this is 2013, and Something Must Be Done!
Last week Johnson began an e-petition asking the Government to legislate that all speedboat drivers should wear the cord. It now has 929 signatures.
“One end plugs in near the ignition key and drivers clip the other to their lifejacket or thigh. If the plug is pulled, the engine will cut out. I get cross when I see the cords just hanging there like an accessory. If the woman who was driving the boat Trissy was on had worn one, he would probably be alive today.
It’s similar to when seatbelts first came on the scene. Cars had to be fitted with them but it was only when legislation came in making people wear them that they put them on.”
You can’t legislate for carelessness and stupidity. And yet people still waste everyone’s time trying.