NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Dominic Jackson's sister relives moment his body was found

Dominic Jackson Image copyright Jackson family
Image caption Dominic Jackson was reported missing after he failed to return from a solo kayaking trip

The sister of kayaker Dominic Jackson learned that his body had been found from a woman she met through social media.

Ellie Jackson was in Australia when her brother went missing during a solo trip from Portsoy in Aberdeenshire.

But when his body was found after a four-day search, she said she did not receive the news from the police.

Instead she was told of the discovery by a "lovely, kind lady" who watched his body being pulled from the water.

Ms Jackson told BBC Radio Scotland the woman saw the operation unfold from a cliff top at Lybster in Caithness.

Speaking on The Stephen Jardine Programme, she said: "She was in touch with me on social media and she said, 'I'm standing on the cliff top, I can see the helicopter, they're hovering over and here comes Wick lifeboat and yes, I'm sorry to say they're pulling him out of the water and they're heading back straight up to Wick.

"I could hear it as she was describing it to me so I felt that connection for him with the people who were there at the last part of his journey.

"My first instinct was relief, I was so glad they found him. I couldn't imagine the pain of not knowing where he was and never finding him."

Image copyright Jackson family
Image caption Dominic Jackson pictured with his nephew

Ms Jackson said her younger brother loved nature and the outdoors and he had learned to kayak while he was a scout.

It was not a hobby he had actively pursued over the years but he bought himself a kayak as a "Christmas present to himself".

She said it was his third or fourth trip out in the vessel when he loaded it onto his campervan and drove from his home in Fettercairn to Portsoy in February.

When he did not return home as planned, his flatmate posted a note on Facebook asking people to look out for him.

Ms Jackson said she spotted the post after dropping off her son at his first day at pre-school.

Cliff top ordeal

She knew "straight away" that it was out of character. "Instantly we knew this was something much, much more serious," she said.

While family members in the UK travelled to Aberdeenshire, Ms Jackson quickly took on a co-ordinating role from her base in Australia.

Image copyright Jackson family
Image caption Mr Jackson loved spending time in the outdoors

"While my family were organising travel arrangements, I could be looking at things on the internet - maps, weather forecasts those kinds of things," she said.

"I could instantly get all this information and relay it straight back to my family over Skype and Dom's friends who also volunteered to come up to search.

"I felt like even though I was so far away, I actually had a really key role in the whole search and while everyone was going through their own ordeal on the cliff top, I was going through my own version of that.

"I was literally stuck to that computer for 22 hours a day for at least 11 days."

Image copyright Jackson family
Image caption Mr Jackson bought the kayak as a "Christmas present to himself".

Ms Jackson also paid tribute to local communities around Portsoy who quickly offered to help the family.

"That, from the other side of the world, was overwhelming," she said.

She said the family get comfort from the fact that he died doing something he loved.

"Far better that than some awful long-suffering illness," she added.

"It was his own choice, it was his own passion, he was surrounded by nature, which he loved and he was at peace, I think, when he went."

Since Mr Jackson's death, the family have set up the PlanB charity in a bid to promote the use of personal locator beacons (PLBs) to prevent similar deaths in the future.

Ms Jackson said the small, wearable devices can be activated in an emergency situation and can help rescuers quickly and accurately locate someone in difficulty.

"I'd like to share the awareness of these beacons through the charity to try and make sense of the tragedy of my brother and have some good come out of this," she said.

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