POLICE have named the two disabled people from West Devon who died in the Roadford Lake tragedy last week.

Residents of Burdon Grange Care Home 43-year-old Alex Wood and 63-year-old Alison Tilsley, known as Ali, died after a boat capzised on the lake on Wednesday, June 8.

Police said their next of kin continue to be supported by specially trained officers at this time.

In a statement released today by Ali’s family, 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 ever met her.

“Her sunny nature, positivity, fantastic sense of humour and skill with words will be greatly missed.

“Our hearts are broken forever but the messages of love and support we have received are of great comfort.

“We politely request privacy at this very difficult time.”

The watersports centre at Roadford Lake remained closed this week following the tragedy

Two bodies were recovered from the lake near Broadwoodwidger on Thursday afternoon (June 9), following a specialist operation over more than 24-hours by police involving drones and specialist teams.

A further four people were rescued from the water, one of whom, a woman in her 50s who also lived a Burdon Grange, remains in a critical condition in hospital.

The two victims were a man in his 40s and a woman in her 60s.

James Platts, chief executive of South West Lakes Trust, said: ‘All of us at South West Lakes are shocked and saddened by the tragic events at Roadford Lake this week. Our thoughts are very much with those affected, their families and friends.

‘We are very grateful to the emergency services for their swift response and very proud of the way our team assisted with the rescue. Roadford Lake Activity Centre remains closed until further notice while we assist the authorities with their enquiries.’

Devon and Cornwall Police are now in close liaison with both the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and HM Coroner as what is expected to be a complex investigation gets underway. The MAIB have confirmed that the two people now confirmed dead were disabled.

Superintendent Toby Davies, from Devon & Cornwall Police, said: ‘The parallel investigations will look at the circumstances surrounding the incident with the MAIB in addition identifying ways to prevent a similar incident occurring in the future. These investigations have already seen liaison with HM Coroner and we would expect this to progress further during the next week.’

A large-scale response from emergency services was launched at around 1.30pm on Wednesday.

Police, fire and ambulance services, the air ambulance, HM Coastguard and search and rescue teams all attended the scene. The group of six were believed to be out on a fishing trip, with reports that the victims were strapped into their wheelchairs.

The passengers on the boat were all believed to be from Devon.

Alison Tilsley
Alex Wood (Devon and Cornwall police)

Police have not disclosed what sort of boat it was or whether the group were wearing lifejackets and it is unclear whether the strong winds may have capsized the boat. Charity South West Lake Trust offers watersports on the lake and among its boats are special ‘wheelyboats’ which are accessible to less able visitors.

A police spokesman said: ‘The lake will remain closed for public access for the forseeable future and localised road closures remain in place at the activity centre to allow access to the relevant emergency services.’

The owners of Burdon Grange Care Home, Stuart and Stephanie Kempton, said in a statement: “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.”