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Lost at sea; Happy and relaxed, Heather Harris and Richard Perry set out on a boat ride. Minutes later their holiday ended in tragedy.

Byline: By Steve Johnson

HAPPY and smiling, tragic friends Richard Perry and Heather Harris haven't a care in the world as they soak up the holiday sunshine on their boat.

But just minutes after this poignant photograph was taken, Richard, aged 28, from Brierley Hill, and bikiniclad 20-year-old Heather, from Stourbridge, were lost at sea.

Tragedy struck off the Isle of Wight exactly a week ago as Richard, of Victoria Street, and Heather, of Woodfield Avenue, Wollescote, enjoyed a trip on board a 20ft Humber Rigid Inflatable Boat, with a 75 horsepower Mariner engine.

The couple were seen by crew members on board the warship HMS Severn, anchored at Sandown Bay.

It is believed they then returned towards the beach at Whitecliff, but they were not seen again.

The body of Mr Perry was recovered by the Coastguard helicopter at 3.30pm last Wednesday, about two hours after the boat was taken out from Bembridge Harbour to Whitecliff Bay.

But a week on, the body of Heather has still not been recovered and police said it could be weeks before she was washed ashore.

Police investigating the tragic boat accident today released this photograph, taken by other members of the holiday party - Heather's father Nick Harris, his partner Diane Moore and Heather's boyfriend.

Officers hope the photo will bring forward witnesses who saw the vessel on the water.

PC Bob Chambers, from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary's Marine Support Unit, which is leading the investigation, said: "After this photo was taken the pair departed to look at HMS Severn.

"They were seen by crew members on board the ship and after that it is believed they returned towards the beach at Whitecliff. They were not seen again."

A post mortem examination on Mr Perry showed he died from drowning and an inquest has been opened and adjourned. Toxicology tests are being carried out and the results are being awaited.

CAPTION(S):

RIB RIDERS... the last picture of holidaymakers Heather Harris and Richard Perry, before the boat is believed to have hit a submerged outcrop of rocks.; SMILES... Enjoying a meal with family and friends.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jul 25, 2007
Words:356
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