A FORMER police officer, who was left disabled after being hit by a drink driver, drowned when he became trapped underneath his boat because of a safety precaution that wasn't followed, an investigation has concluded.

Stephen Hague was on Windermere during a session with Blackwell Sailing Club when a gust of wind capsized the boat.

The instructor onboard managed to swim to safety but the 57-year-old, from Heversham, became trapped under the hull and was unable to escape given his mobility issues.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) found that a strap used to secure the retractable keel had not been attached at the time of the incident on June 12.

As the keel was fully retracted it would have been very difficult to right the boat.

According to MAIB if the velcro strap had been secured those trying to right the boat to rescue Mr Hague would have been able to do so much quicker.

The MAIB report concluded: "In the windy conditions on the day, the boat was knocked down and heeled to such an extent that the keel slipped in its housing, retracting entirely.

"During the capsize the assistant instructor was able to swim clear but the disabled crewman became trapped under the inverted hull.

"The safety boat crew saw the accident and attended the scene quickly, but had difficulty righting the boat and so were unable to reach the crewman in sufficient time to effect a successful rescue."

The MAIB's findings do not preclude or preempt any legal proceedings.

Joff McGill, RYA Sailability Manager, said: “We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Stephen Hague.

"Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Stephen’s family and friends, and all the Sailability volunteers at Blackwell Sailing.

“We will work closely with our partners in the boating industry to highlight the importance of securing retractable keels and centreboards while sailing boats are in use.

"We also strongly recommend that procedures and drills for recovering a capsized boat include the scenario where the keel or centreboard has retracted from its lowered position.”