Accident Investigation Report 13/2022
River conditions at Haverfordwest weir the day after the fatal paddling accident
At approximately 0900 on 30 October 2021 a group of nine stand up paddle boarders descended the Haverfordwest town weir on a commercial river excursion from Haverfordwest to Burton Ferry, Wales. Four people from the group died after being trapped on the weir by the hydraulic tugboat.
- The leaders did not plan and prepare enough for the tour, ignoring the great danger posed by the weir
- Signage at the launch point and on the river did not adequately alert participants to the risks of descending the weir
- Participants are wearing clothing, buoyancy aids and harnesses that do not follow accepted guidelines
- The tour leader has no training, experience or qualifications to lead this tour
- UK stand up paddle board safety information and training management is inconsistent, participants cannot judge the proficiency of training and travel agents
Statement by the Chief Inspector of Marine Casualties
30 May 2022 The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents wrote to Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water recommending (2022/108) that an immediate risk assessment be undertaken with Pembrokeshire Council, Milford Harbor Authority and other stakeholders as appropriate Haverfordwest Town Weir hazards to river users and put in place appropriate controls to mitigate that risk. Such measures could include, inter alia, riverside markings, warning sign buoys and, where necessary, physical barriers.
Following the publication of this report, further recommendations have been made to the UK National Sport Council (2022/134, 2022/135, 2022/136): complete a review to identify the best organization to act as the national governing body for stand up paddle boarding; Governance incorporates its criteria for granting accreditation to national governing bodies; publishes good practice guidelines for national governing bodies.
Construction Industry Research and Information Association Paper, C763, River Weirs – Design Maintenance Modification and Removal, 2016, Chapter 10: Operational Safety
UK Kayaks Information Sheet – Stand Up Paddle Board Safety, Choosing the Right Leash – November 2020 (PDF, 753 KB)
Published December 8, 2022