Letchworth man drowned in Portugal sailing accident, inquest hears

AN ELDERLY man drowned following an accident while sailing alone off the coast of Portugal, a coroner’s court heard on Tuesday.

Alan Rees was sailing a yacht single-handedly when the accident occurred in October 2011.

The body of Mr Rees, of Pear Tree Dell in Letchworth GC, was found attached to a life raft in the north Atlantic ocean, 18 miles from the coastal city of Porto.

Following an investigation by the Portuguese police, the 73-year-old’s body was repatriated from Porto Airport and flown back to the UK via London Gatwick.

Speaking at an inquest held at Bedfordshire Coroner’s Court, coroner David Morris said: “Mr Rees was sailing on his own single-handed when his yacht went down. It’s been established that he was found dead in the water on the October 26, 2011.

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“A post-mortem was carried out in Portugal and the cause of death when his body was repatriated was recorded as ‘submersion due to a leisure accident’.”

Recording a verdict of accidental death by drowning, Mr Morris added that Mr Rees used to work as an information technology lecturer, and was evidently well-travelled having been born in Port Said in Egypt.

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He was a widower to his wife Jennifer and is survived by his son Neil, who lives at his father’s address, and daughter Linda.

Neighbour Robert Staddon said Mr Rees had been living in Pear Tree Dell ever since the houses were built in 1970.

Mr Staddon, who knew Mr Rees for almost 20 years, said: “I knew he was mad about sailing. There’s still a boat on the drive which he was trying to make seaworthy. I believe he was on a return trip to Portugal from the Azores in stormy weather when it happened.”

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