Lamberhurst mother believed to be killed in boat accident on River Rhone in France

PUBLISHED: 10:45 23 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:45 23 October 2017

Passenger boat on the river Rhone

Passenger boat on the river Rhone


Jess Wilkes was described by her family as a “larger than life” character

A mother, reportedly from Lamberhurst, has died and four other people have been injured in a boat accident on the River Rhone in southern France.

The woman, understood to be Jess Wilkes, 27, was ejected overboard when the boat struck a warning beacon overnight on the river in the city of Avignon, an official said.

Her devastated family paid tribute to their “larger than life” daughter, who was with her boyfriend at the time of the accident.

Father Bernard Wilkes, 72, told The Sun: “What can a father say about losing his only daughter?

“She was a beautiful young girl who lived life to the full. She had a love for life.

“At the moment we’re just in tears. She was beautiful and full of life. She had a seven-year-old daughter.

“We want answers about the guy driving the boat. He was a restaurant owner taking them back after a meal.

“We haven’t heard anything. They won’t release anything as the investigation is ongoing.

“She was out celebrating the birthday of her boss, Guy. It was a dinner, Guy’s family live out there.

“She had done promotional work for Chelsea and Wembley, but wanted to do architecture.

“She’s never been to university, she was studying while working for Guy.”

Brother Phillip Wilkes, 25, added: “She was larger than life and very loved by her family.”

Four others on the boat were also injured and two of them are in serious condition.

An investigation has been opened to determine the cause of the accident.

The official said the boat was travelling from the island of Barthelasse, where the victim had dinner with friends at a restaurant, to Avignon. Barthelasse is France’s largest river island.

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