Two disabled care home residents drowned as boat capsized in Dartmoor

Pictured: Two disabled care home residents, aged 43 and 63, drowned after their boat capsized on Dartmoor reservoir during fishing trip as third victim, in her 50s, fights for life in hospital

  • Alex Wood, 43, and Alison Tilsley, 63, died after their boat capsized
  • Tributes were paid today for ‘much-loved’ pair from Burdon Grange Care Home
  • Tragedy struck last Wednesday on Roadford Lake near Okehampton, Devon
  • A third resident from the home remains critically ill in a Plymouth hospital 

Tributes have today been paid to two disabled care home residents who drowned after their boat capsized during fishing trip on a Dartmoor reservoir.

Alex Wood, 43, and Alison Tilsley, 63, were named by police this afternoon after they died when a motorboat overturned on Roadford Lake near Okehampton, Devon, last Wednesday.

The pair were ‘much-loved’ members of the Burdon Grange Care Home in Beaworthy, Devon, as tribute today poured in from their community and family members. 

Police say the tragedy involved six people on a sailing for the disabled course on Wednesday June 8 and two bodies were tragically found a day later. 

A third resident from the home, a woman in her 50s, remains critically ill in a Plymouth hospital. 

Tributes have poured in for Alex Wood (left) and Alison Tilsley (right) who were ‘much-loved’ members of Burdon Grange Care Home in Beaworthy, Devon, after a boat they were on capsized during a fishing trip on a Dartmoor reservoir last week

Emergency services launched a desperate search after the boat capsized last Wednesday – before two bodies were sadly found

In a statement issued today, care home owners Stuart and Stephanie Kempton, said: ‘Words cannot express how devastated we are following Wednesday’s tragedy at Roadford Lake, where two of our residents lost their lives.

‘We are deeply saddened by the loss of two, much-loved, members of our community.

‘Our thoughts are with the families, relatives and friends of the people who lost their lives, and with our residents and staff at our care home.

‘Our thoughts are also with one of our residents, who remains in hospital, and their family.

‘We would like to thank the emergency services for their swift response to the tragedy and their continuing support, during this extremely difficult time. We would politely request that we are given time to come to terms with this tragedy.’ 

Alison Tilsley’s family paid tribute to the ‘caring and loving’ woman in a statement.

They said: ‘We are totally devastated by the loss of our beautiful Ali. She was the most kind, caring and loving daughter, sister and auntie. She was loved by everyone who met her.

‘Her sunny nature, positivity, fantastic sense of humour and skill with words will be greatly missed. Our hearts will be broken forever but the messages of love and support we have received are of great comfort.’

A major operation was launched on Wednesday afternoon when the six adults were thrown from the boat during a fishing trip.

It is believed the victims were strapped into wheelchairs on the boat when it capsized in the huge reservoir – which is 130 feet deep in parts.

Police, fire and ambulance services, the air ambulance, HM Coastguard and search and rescue teams all attended were all present at the scene.

Four people were rescued from the water following the incident. 

A police statement said today: ‘Emergency services were called to Roadford Lake near Okehampton at around 1.30pm on Wednesday 8 June after a boat capsized.

‘Following a major operation police officers located and recovered the bodies of two people from the lake during the afternoon of Thursday 9 June.

‘Formal identification has now taken place and police have named the two people as 43-year-old Alex Wood and 63-year-old Alison Tilsley, known as Ali. Both of whom were from the West Devon area.

‘Their next of kin continue to be supported by specially trained officers at this time.’ 

A third person remains in a critical condition at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth after being pulled from the water

The owners of Burdon Grange Care Home said they are ‘devastated’ after two of their disabled residents died when their boat capsized during a trip last week to Roadford Lake, Devon

Devon and Cornwall Police and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch have launched separate investigations into the deaths.

A spokesman for the coroner said ‘preliminary inquires are ongoing at this time’. 

Charity South West Lakes, which runs Roadford Lake Activity Centre, says it will remain closed until further notice.

The reservoir is the largest area of fresh water in the south west of England.

It is operated by South West Lakes for leisure pursuits including kayaking, sailing, paddleboarding, canoeing and fishing.

It also offers archery, high ropes, climbing, walking, cycling and qualified instructor led sessions.

On South West Lakes website it says: ‘We aim to provide social inclusion and accessibility for all. We want more people to engage with the outdoors and have fun, irrespective of ability, age and background.’

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