Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 15:50 UK

Cadet organiser admits mistakes

Kaylee McIntosh
Kaylee McIntosh drowned after a boat upturned on Loch Carnan

The man who organised a boating exercise in which an Army cadet died has admitted he had not been prepared for the possibility of a capsize.

Kaylee McIntosh, 14, from Fyvie in Aberdeenshire, drowned last August after a boat upturned on South Uist.

Expedition organiser Major George McCallum accepted that his planning of the trip had been "exceptionally bad".

He was speaking at Stornoway Sheriff Court, on the eighth day of a fatal accident inquiry into Kaylee's death.

She died while on Loch Carnan in the Outer Hebrides, while taking part in a three-boat training exercise on 3 August, 2007.

A rescue operation was launched after the power boat carrying the schoolgirl and 12 others capsized in choppy seas..

Major George McCallum
I never took into account the possibility of a capsize
Maj George McCallum

An error in a headcount taken after the incident meant the teenager was trapped under the upturned boat for one-and-a-half hours before it was noticed she was missing.

Earlier this year, an investigation found she had been wearing the wrong kind of lifejacket, which had kept her pinned under the boat.

Maj McCallum told procurator fiscal David Teale that he was relying on a "buddy boat" system during the exercise, rather than having a separate safety boat.

He said this would allow any of the three boats to pick up a man overboard, but would not be sufficient in the event of a whole boat capsizing

'Systematic failure'

When questioned about this, he said: "I never took into account the possibility of a capsize."

Maj McCallum, who nominated himself as the safety adviser for the exercise, was asked by Mr Teale if he now appreciated the need for a separate safety adviser.

"I certainly do, sir, yes," he said.

Loch Carnan
The exercise was taking place on Loch Carnan

"After experiencing the event when I was in the water myself, I could not possibly do the job - I was up to my neck in water."

Mr Teale said: "Do you accept this was exceptionally bad planning on your part?"

"Yes sir, I have got to accept that," the Major said.

The inquiry also heard from an Army accident investigator, Lt Col John Adams, who also said there was a "systemic failure" in the organisation of the expedition.

He told Simon Di Rollo QC, who was representing Kaylee's family, the exercise should have been supervised by a safety officer but there was no evidence that anyone had been appointed to the role.

Col Adams also agreed that a machine gun mounted on the bow of the boat had affected the stability of the craft.

At the end of his evidence, Col Adams paid tribute to the girl's family, who have been present at the proceedings.

He said: "I have met the McIntosh family on a number of occasions.

"I have been humbled by their dignity and would like to give my public condolences to them."


SEE ALSO
Cadet team 'had safety assurance'
12 Aug 08 |  North East/N Isles
Cadet officer 'not told' of boats
11 Aug 08 |  North East/N Isles
Captain admits cadet death error
30 May 08 |  North East/N Isles
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

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