Youngest Zeebrugge ferry disaster survivor whose dad rescued her by putting babygrow between his teeth as he swam dies

THE youngest Zeebrugge ferry disaster survivor, whose dad rescued her by putting her babygrow between his teeth as he swam, has died.

“To survive Zeebrugge and then die so young is tragic," said one tribute, following 34-year-old Carly Zutic's death in Scotland.

Jardine Funeral Directors in Dumfries said she had passed away "on the 17th May 2021, suddenly at her home".

The funeral notice adds that, "Carly Zutic, aged 34 years, [was the] beloved daughter of Julie and Petar, much loved sister…, loving mum… and a dear grandaughter, niece, and cousin."

Her incredible dad saved his then baby over three decades ago, when the MS Herald of Free Enterprise went down after water flooded into the car deck as it left the port area of the Belgian city of Bruges.

Almost 200 passengers and crew died when the British ferry capsized shortly after leaving the port of Zeebrugge in 1987.

All but seven of those who died were British, reported BBC News.

Survivors later recalled the horrific circumstances, as the passenger ferry capsized in just 90 seconds in pitch-black dark.

The Daily Record said the much-loved mum was just nine-weeks-old when she survived the sinking.

"Her soldier dad, Petar, swam to safety with her before being reunited with Carly’s mum, Julie, an agonising six hours later," added Edinburgh Live.

One pal said in a tribute: “Carly’s rescue was the stuff of legend around Dumfries.

"Her dad swam to safety with her babygrow between his teeth as she was so tiny.

“It was a story that made headlines around the world at the time and they are quite well known because of it."

Survivors of that tragic night have over the years revealed the horrific circumstances, including how the sinking had changed, and impacted upon their lives forever.

Some have told the media about the ongoing psychological scars, which has left them unable to go on a ferry, walk on a pier or, unsurprisingly, walking across water.

The Daily Record has claimed that Carly "passed away after a long battle with drug addiction". The Sun Online is unable to confirm this.

However, those who know the mum and ex-waitress best have praised her family as a "private, hard-working and very close.

“Carly may have had issues but she was a lovely girl and adored her young daughter and remained close to her parents and brother and sister.

“To survive Zeebrugge and then die so young is tragic.”

Fiona Glover posted on Facebook: "Very sorry for your loss", while Graham Wilson said: "RIP, What a tragedy this is, thinking of Carly and her family."

Allen Scott said: “Always loved and remembered.”

Dawn Walker also paid tribute, saying she was a, “beautiful girl. RIP Dolly, I’ll miss you so much."

In 2017, the Sun wrote about one survivor who lost her mum, step-father and uncle in the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, as she recounted the horrifying moment she realised the boat was sinking.

Gillian Lashbrooke was just 16 when she was caught up in the disaster, saying she could remember the terror that unfolded over 30 years ago like it was just yesterday.

She said: "I was on the outside of the boat when it capsized, I was at the right railings and I was looking down into the sea and I couldn't quite believe it… I just thought 'no this can't be possibly happening'."

The ferry had come into trouble just minutes after leaving the dock at Zeebrugge in Belgium, with the boat capsizing in just 90 seconds.

Knocked unconscious several times as the MH Herald of Free Enterprise sank, Gillian could only describe it as "a nightmare".

She said: "When I was in the sea I was trying to keep my head above the waves.

"I could hear all the chaos around me."

The Queen, who led a shocked nation in grieving for the victims sent a sympathy message to their families, saying she was ″deeply shocked and saddened".

Evelyn Pinnell, who was on the Herald when it sank, spoke to the Mirror in 2012 about it claiming the lives of daughters Fiona, 20, Heidi, 13, and Fiona’s fiance Jonathan Reynolds, 19.

She almost drowned in the freezing water that filled the ship, while trapped inside the pitch-black hull for more than an hour.

Evelyn could hear the moans of those slowly dying nearby, while not knowing where her children were.

She said: “I haven’t been on a ferry since. I can’t go on a pier. I cannot even bear walking over water.”

What happened in the Zeebrugge ferry disaster?

The Herald of Free Enterprise capsized on March 6, 1987, resulting in the deaths of 193 passengers and crew.

It began taking in water shortly after leaving Belgium on its way to the Kent port of Dover.

Water flooded into the car deck as it left the port area of the Belgian city of Bruges, in Flanders.

It capsized in 90 seconds when the crew failed to shut the bow doors, says BBC News.

Millions of Britons learned of the disaster when TV networks broke into regular programmes with news flashes, a rare occurrence.

They showed aerial views of the huge ferry pitched on its side.

Most of the 500 people on the passenger ferry had taken advantage of a newspaper promotion offering a £1 return trip from Dover to Zeebrugge, it adds.

The roll-on roll-off vessel was originally found to have capsized as a result of the assistant boatswain falling asleep in his cabin when he should have been closing the door at the bow of the ship.

However a later inquiry placed a greater level of blame on on his supervisors and the operating company Townsend Thorensen.

Former cop and assistant bank manager Andrew Parker was awarded the George Medal for gallantry after he lay across a broken walkway to allow passengers including his wife and daughter to walk across his body to safety.

He survived and became known as "the human bridge" for his act of astonishing bravery.

Head waiter Michael Skippen was less fortunate receiving the same award posthumously after he perished saving others aboard.

The MS Herald of Free Enterprise was salvaged by a Dutch company and was re-floated the next month in April 1987.

There were then attempts to sell the vessel but no buyers were found and it was eventually sent to Taiwan to be scrapped.

It also resulted in major improvements being made to the safety of these types of ships.

Watertight ramps were required to be fitted to the bow sections of the ships and "freeing flaps" to allow water to be let out from the car decks in case of flooding were also fitted.

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