Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Friday, 30 May 2008 18:32 UK

Captain admits cadet death error

Kaylee McIntosh
Kaylee McIntosh drowned in the accident last year

An Army captain has admitted he should have carried out a head count after a boat capsized, leading to the death of a teenage cadet.

Kaylee McIntosh, 14, of Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, drowned after the boat upturned on Loch Carnan, South Uist, last year.

Capt David Adams, 42, accepted a search should have begun earlier - but the alarm was not raised for 90 minutes.

The sheriff holding the fatal accident inquiry viewed the boat on Friday.

The fifth day of the FAI at Inverness Sheriff Court heard 34 cadets were due on a field exercise, but tragedy struck as the children were being shipped across Loch Carnan.

The first 17 cadets, including Kaylee, had boarded three power boats and Capt Adams waited at the pier with the remaining 17.

However, not long after, he noticed cadets coming up from the pier soaking wet and crying.

At that stage there was people still out in the water
Capt David Adams

Capt Adams said he "mistakenly" assumed the remaining cadets were accounted for.

Counsel Simon di Rollo, representing Kaylee's parents, asked: "Did you carry out a head count?"

He replied: "No."

Mr di Rollo added: "Do you agree that if that had been done then it might have been discovered Kaylee was missing?"

Capt Adams replied: "At that stage there was people still out in the water."

Mr di Rollo said: "Did you wait until all the cadets returned?"

Capt Adams said: "No."

Mr di Rollo said: "If you had, would you have discovered Kaylee was missing?"

Capt Adams replied: "That is possible, yes."

'Elephant's trunks'

The court later heard from a powerboat expert that the weight of the engine at the back of the boat and the machine gun at the front were both contributory factors in its sinking.

Paul Mara, chief powerboat instructor for the Royal Yachting Association, said the boat became very unstable after it started taking on water. He said the instability was increased by the off-centre engine to the rear.

The problem was worsened he said by the weight of the machine gun dragging down the front of the boat and allowing spray to enter.

Mr Mara also told Mr di Rollo that the boat's "elephant's trunks" - tubing used to release on board water - were not lowered when they should have been.

He also agreed that the boat was operating beyond its capacity given the strength of the wind, which was approaching gale force.

Sheriff Alastair MacFadyen and legal representatives of Kaylee's family and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) earlier inspected the craft.

The sheriff at one point climbed a stepladder to see inside the khaki green vessel at Northern Constabulary HQ in Inverness.

The FAI was adjourned to 11 August at Stornoway Sheriff Court, due to pressure on space at Inverness Sheriff Court.

Boat officer was 'ill-prepared'
29 May 08 |  North East/N Isles
Family's tears over cadet search
28 May 08 |  North East/N Isles
Cadet probe hears of rescue hope
27 May 08 |  North East/N Isles
Fatal boat trip names 'not taken'
26 May 08 |  North East/N Isles
Dead cadet's parents seek charges
18 Mar 08 |  North East/N Isles

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