Family pay tribute to River Thames boating tragedy victim from East Finchley
PUBLISHED: 11:47 14 December 2015 | UPDATED: 11:47 14 December 2015
The family of a 24-year-old from East Finchley who was killed in a date night speedboat ride on the River Thames have revealed she was not wearing a life jacket.
Charlotte Brown, known as “Charli”, was on a first date when the pair set off on a boat ride after a meal in The Shard skyscraper last Tuesday evening.
The business development consultant had met her 29-year-old date online and the couple had been in contact for about a month, with Ms Brown “excited” to see him in person for the first time, her family said.
But her first ever speedboat ride ended in tragedy when the couple were thrown into the water.
The Metropolitan Police’s Marine Support Unit, a helicopter and the coastguard were called at about 11.45pm when screams were heart from the water near Wandsworth Bridge.
The pair were pulled from the water and taken to hospital, but Ms Brown later was declared dead at 1.55am on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old man has been discharged from hospital.
Ms Brown’s sister Kate, 27, said she was not wearing a life jacket when she fell overboard.
She said: “Even the best swimmer in the Thames at his time of year, with the current conditions and the cold, I don’t see many people standing a chance without a life jacket.
“We don’t know exactly what happened. If she was wearing a life jacket there is a chance she could still be here today.”
Her family said they had been touched by the “outpouring of love for Charli”, an English Literature graduate.
Her mother Roz Wickens, 50, a former London Ambulance Service emergency medical technician, was at home in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, when police arrived to break the “inexplicable” news to her.
It took nine hours for police to identify the body because Ms Brown’s handbag had also been thrown overboard.
Paying tribute to Ms Brown’s “cheeky smile, loving heart, and vibrant personality”, Ms Wickens said: “I am so totally devastated I can’t put it into words, but when people see what a beautiful woman she is, they will know how everyone loved her, she touched so many hearts.
“This is the worst thing I have ever had to do in my life, it is so terrible.”
Ms Brown’s father Graham, 52, a civil servant, was said to be “inconsolable”.
Ms Brown, who was originally from south London, was to become an aunt for the second time in three weeks and was said to be “very excited” that her eldest sister Vicky, 28, was expecting.
Her sister Kate, 27, added: “Charli had never been on a speedboat before in her life, she was obviously excited to be on one.
“She was the type of girl who lived life to the full and she was probably excited to tell us about this adventure.”
Her heartbroken friends have returned to Britain from as far as the US upon hearing the news, Ms Brown’s mother said.
Her death is deemed non-suspicious and a police investigation continues.
An inquest into Ms Brown’s death is due to be opened tomorrow by the Wandsworth Coroner.