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America's Cup- Artemis death verdict 'result of an human act'

by Bob Fisher on 22 May 2014
Onboard the AC72. Artemis Racing April 11th 2013, Alameda, USA Sander van der Borch / Artemis Racing
The cause of death of Artemis crewman Andrew Simpson was summarily dismissed by the Deputy Coroner for the County of Dorset, Mr. Richard Middleton, today in a brief hearing of sixteen minutes.

The Coroner, in a prepared statement, from which he read, announced: 'This is a final hearing', leaving the five family members and ten journalists, no doubt that the matter was closed.

In what amounted to a résumé of the evidence of three SFPD officers and Adam May, a member of the Artemis Racing Team who was on board when the accident that led to the death of his teammate occurred, it mostly covered, in painful detail, the timescale and the position of the Swedish AC72 on that fateful day, May 9th last year from 1306 PST when the capsize happened, to 1341 PST when Simpson was pronounced dead.

From this, the Deputy Coroner, announced that the death of Andrew Simpson at 1341 PST on May 9th last year was due 'directly as the result of an human act.' This is the official description of an accident. He followed this by giving the cause of death as: 'blunt trauma with drowning.' He did report that Simpson’s helmet had been crushed, and that continuous attempts at CPR and resuscitation by defibrillator had failed.

Strangely perhaps, there was no attempt to apportion blame, nor was there any attempt to explain the cause of the accident beyond the fact that the Swedish AC72 was bearing away in 20 knots of breeze in choppy waters, apart from one hint, from Adam May’s report that: 'the port hull dug in and folded.' No blame for this was apportioned.

It does, however, lead to further speculation as to what was at fault, and it would not seem, in any way to blame those who were sailing the boat, but points to a structural failure of the port hull.

After the five family members had filed out of the Court, several of the journalists gathered to discuss the Inquest and were generally dissatisfied with the presentation. They wanted greater detail of the cause of the accident and some apportionment of the blame, but were told that this was final.

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