Lyme Regis Harbour
Clair Perkins, 20, fell 12ft into the sea after her wheelchair slipped off the edge of the harbour wall in Lyme Regis, Dorset.

The family of a disabled woman who died after her electric wheelchair rolled off a harbour wall and plunged 12ft into the sea have told an inquest about her final moments.

Clair Perkins, 20, died when her wheelchair went over the edge of The Cob harbour wall in Lyme Regis, Dorset. The Cob is notorious for its steep slope, which can make even walking along it when it is wet risky.

Mark and Paula Perkins told the inquest how a fisherman, Harry May, had dived into the water in an attempt to save their daughter but the murky water and sheer weight of her wheelchair was too much for him.

Mr Perkins told the inquest: "We were standing on the pier talking when we heard a noise. Paula turned around to ask if Clair was OK and Clair wasn't there.

"She was gone in a split second. We were standing within arms' reach when it happened.

"Harry May jumped in and was swimming up and down trying to get her but he couldn't find her."

May and parademic Nigel Lang were commended for their bravery in the ordeal.

Lang also dived in to try to save her.

May said after the inquest: "I dived down with a rope a couple of times and found the chair. It was a real weight.

"I took hold of the cover and started coming up but then all of a sudden it came away in my hand."

The family said: "Our beautiful daughter was taken from us in an accident.

"We would like to thank Harry May, the fisherman who continued to put his life in jeopardy, the dedicated members of the emergency services, RNLI and the staff at Dorchester County Hospital. They all tried in vain to bring Clair back to us.

"We will always be in their debt for what they did on that horrible day."