Youngest survivor of Zeebrugge ferry disaster has died at 34
27th June 2021

Youngest survivor of Zeebrugge ferry disaster who was just nine weeks old when father saved her from capsize tragedy that killed 193 has died at 34 after long battle against drugs

  • Carly Zutic, 34, from Dumfries, died aged 34 after a battle with drug addiction 
  • Carly was just nine weeks old when she survived the Zeebrugge ferry disaster
  • Her father swam her to safety with her ‘baby grow in his teeth’ 
  • The vessel capsized just 60 seconds after leaving the port and killed 193 people
  • Ferry had left Zeebrugge with bow doors open, allowing water to flood car deck

The youngest survivor of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster has died aged 34 after a long battle with drug addiction. 

Carly Zutic, from Dumfries, was just nine weeks old when her soldier father swam to safety with her ‘baby grow in his teeth’ from capsize tragedy which killed 193 people. 

Family held a small, private funeral for the Scottish mother due to current Covid restrictions on funerals, according to the Daily Record.  

At about 6pm on March 6, 1987, the Townsend Thoresen roll-on, roll-off ferry The Herald Of Free Enterprise turned over on its side outside Zeebrugge, Belgium, as it set out for Dover, Kent. 

Carly Zutic, from Dumfries, who was just nine weeks old when she survived the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, has died aged 34 after a long battle with drug addiction

Carly’s father Petar reportedly carried Carly’s ‘baby grow in his teeth’ as she was so tiny when he rescued her, swimming to safety as the passenger ferry capsized. They were reunited with Carly’s mother Julie six hours later. 

In a tribute to the mother, a friend said: ‘Carly’s rescue was the stuff of legend around Dumfries. Her dad swam to safety with her baby grow 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.’  

At about 6pm on March 6, 1987, the Townsend Thoresen roll-on, roll-off ferry The Herald Of Free Enterprise turned over on its side outside Zeebrugge, Belgium, as it set out for Dover, Kent

A public inquiry confirmed the ferry had left Zeebrugge with its bow doors open, allowing water to flood the car deck, and the crew member responsible for closing them was asleep at the time.

Carly’s parents father Petar and mother Julie were just 21 and 20, respectively, at the time of the tragedy. 

Julie waited six hours before learning her husband and daughter were safe after the boat capsized.  

Heroics by crew and passengers in 1987 led to the majority of those on board surviving, but more than 150 passengers and nearly 40 crew on the British-flagged vessel perished.

A public inquiry confirmed the ferry had left Zeebrugge with its bow doors open, allowing water to flood the car deck, and the crew member responsible for closing them was asleep at the time

Petar said the family did not want to comment on his daughter’s death.   

The Herald of Free Enterprise ferry began to sink moments after it left the Belgian port Zeebrugge. 

The vessel carried both cars and passengers and began to capsize just 60 seconds after leaving the port due to its bow doors being open, allowing water to pour in.  

Carly’s father Petar reportedly carried Carly’s ‘baby grow in his teeth’ as she was so tiny when he rescued her, swimming to safety as the passenger ferry capsized. They were reunited with Carly’s mother Julie six hours later

What happened during the Zeebrugge ferry disaster? 

At about 6pm on March 6, 1987, the Townsend Thoresen roll-on, roll-off ferry The Herald Of Free Enterprise turned over on its side outside Zeebrugge, Belgium, as it set out for Dover, Kent.

Heroics by crew and passengers in 1987 led to the majority of those on board surviving, but more than 150 passengers and nearly 40 crew on the British-flagged vessel perished.

The Herald of Free Enterprise ferry began to sink moments after it left the Belgian port Zeebrugge. 

Heroics by crew and passengers in 1987 led to the majority of those on board surviving, but more than 150 passengers and nearly 40 crew on the British-flagged vessel perished

The vessel carried both cars and passengers and began to capsize just 60 seconds after leaving the port due to its bow doors being open, allowing water to pour in.    

A number of the disaster’s heroes received awards, including a George Medal for ex-policeman Andrew Parker who became known as ‘the human bridge’ after he laid across a broken walkway and allowed passengers including his wife and daughter to cross over his body to safety.

Head waiter Michael Skippen received a posthumous George Medal. He died after saving others and calling for calm.

Other crew members were awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

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