Falmouth jet ski crash victim speaks out
A Falmouth shipyard worker badly injured in a jet ski crash says he has “lost faith” in the harbour authority that took him to court over the accident.
Alan Cairns broke his hip and shattered his pelvis after a child with little experience riding jet skis smashed into him in July of last year, Truro Magistrates’ Court heard last Wednesday.
He lost three and half pints of blood on the way to the hospital, has suffered blood clots and infection since and will need a full hip replacement.
Mr Cairns, of Dracaena Avenue, was jointly charged with Anthony Eva, Porham Green, and the youth – who cannot be named for legal reasons – of the marine equivalent of careless driving.
Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) brought the case to court, claiming that all three were riding jet skis without care and caution and at such speed that it could have endangered lives.
Yet the magistrates were not swayed by the prosecution’s case that jumping the wake of power boats amounted to carelessness and that all three were “equally to blame for the accident.”
Instead, chair of the magistrates David Jarrett described what happened as a “tragic accident” that resulted from the trio doing “what jet skiers do.” All three were acquitted.
Alan, aged 52, is still picking up the pieces from the accident – with two further surgeries scheduled between now and summer - and he is annoyed that FHC tried to “make an example” of him and his friend Anthony.
“I have used their facilities and launched there for years and tried to be a law abiding citizen, but my faith has gone in them now,” he said.
“They know it was just very unfortunate what happened, it was three people doing what jet skiers do.
“All we have done is given them information and they used it against us. They tried twisting it and calling me a liar.”
A “Falmouth man” who has lived in the town all his life, Alan has four decades of experience on the water and questioned why FHC did not do more to publicise their own bye-laws.
“They have got to educate people,” he said.
“They have probably wasted thousands of pounds on this [court case]. Why not spend that money on new signs and educate people?
“It’s no good bolting the gate after the horse has bolted and that’s what has happened.”
For their part, the FHC said the case was “hampered” by an inability to apply the marine equivalent of the Highway Code, known as “collision regulations.”
Harbour master Mark Sansom said: “We are disappointed with the verdict but have no regrets in bringing the prosecution.
“It is important for all those using craft afloat to understand that there are rules about how they conduct themselves regardless of what type of activity they are undertaking.”
Alan said he was glad relieved to get the court case “out of the way” so he could “concentrate on the next chapter” of his life.
“We should never have been in court in the first place,” he said.
“They were trying to make an example of us and it’s backfired.”