Inquest hears of desperate attempts to save life of Olympic sailor Andrew Simpson

Dorset Echo: SAILING STAR: Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson compete in the Star Class SAILING STAR: Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson compete in the Star Class

DESPERATE attempts were made to save Olympic sailing gold medallist Andrew “Bart” Simpson after the boat he was training on capsized in San Francisco Bay, an inquest heard.

The world of sailing was left in shock when the 36-year-old, of Sherborne, was killed while training for the America’s Cup on May 9 last year.

The father-of-two was one of an 11-man crew on board a 72ft Artemis Racing catamaran when the vessel capsized during a training session. He died as a result of an accident, a coroner ruled.

Richard Middleton, assistant coroner for Dorset, heard that Mr Simpson’s teammates and the team’s support crew attempted to revive Mr Simpson while he was still in the water.

In a statement read at Bournemouth Coroner’s Court, Officer Matthew Mattey, of San Francisco Police Department, described the scene as he arrived on the Marine 7 police boat.

He said: “They had the victim floating on a backboard and had started CPR. I realised we needed to get the victim a stable hard frame.

“With the help of other unknown crew members we were able to get the victim onto the chase boat.”

Officer Mattey connected a defibrillator machine to Mr Simpson and continued CPR while the boat travelled towards the pier where paramedics were waiting, the court heard.

Despite their efforts, Mr Simpson was pronounced dead at the scene.

During the 15-minute inquest, Mr Middleton was told the sailing champion, who won gold alongside his best friend, Iain Percy, at the Beijing 2008 Games and silver at the London 2012 Olympics in the waters off Weymouth and Portland in the Star discipline, had been trapped under the boat for around 10 minutes.

Pathologist Dr Amy Heart recorded the cause of death as “blunt trauma with drowning”. After reading the evidence to the court Mr Middleton said: “I am satisfied that it is probable Mr Simpson’s cause of death arose directly as a consequence of some deliberate human act which had unexpectedly and unintentionally taken a turn which had led to his death.

“My conclusion therefore is that Mr Simpson died as the result of an accident.”

He added: “Mr Simpson’s death will be a tremendous loss to the sailing community.”

Following the inquest, Andrew Simpson’s mother Pamela said sailing was her son’s passion.

She added: “He loved sailing and he really wanted to do it.

“He was a great son. We really miss him.”

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