#OTD in 2000 – A boating accident in Mexico claims the life of singer, Kirsty MacColl.

‘The full details of Kirsty’s injuries are too awful for me to describe. Apparently the paramedic threw up on arriving at the scene. But two boys have to live with those last memories of their mother for the rest of their lives.’ –Jean MacColl

Kirsty MacColl, well-known female recording artist, was scuba diving in Mexico off Cozumel Island with a friend (James Knight) and a dive master (Ivan Diaz) on the afternoon of 18 December 2000. As they surfaced from a dive she saw a large powerboat was bearing down on her and her two sons (13 and 15 years of age). According to reports, she swam to one, moved him out-of-the-way, then grabbed her other son to protect him. She was struck by the propeller, “killed instantly, her body nearly sliced in half by the propeller” according to a report published by her mother, Jean Newlove / Jean MacColl. The son she first pushed out-of-the-way was also struck, but not severely. The boat belonged to a wealthy, influential Mexican businessman. He claims the boat was operated by an employee, Jean MacColl suspects it was driven by the wealthy businessman. Kirsty MacColl’s mother and those who assisted her, were unable to penetrate the protection, challenges, and roadblocks surrounding the event to positively discern the truth. The investigation was officially dropped in December 2009.

Kirsty MacColl had been working 18 months straight and was looking forward to the trip. She planned to introduce her sons to scuba diving in the beautiful diving environment at Cozumel. Her mother dropped by the night before they left the U.K. for supper, and they made plans for Christmas. Kirsty was killed at age 41 in a boat propeller accident that made world headlines. Her funeral was held in Mortlake Crematorium in London.

A 31 foot boat, The Percalito, was owned by then 67-year-old, Guillermo Gonzalez Novo, owner of a large Mexican supermarket chain and many other businesses. Mr. Nova was on the boat along with his family, a baby granddaughter, and a hired deck hand, Jose Cen Yam, age 26. Jose claimed to be driving the boat and only going about 1 knot per hour at the time of the accident. He did not possess a license to operate a craft this large. Jean MacColl, and many others, suspect Mr. Nova was actually at the helm. Many eye witnesses claim the boat was going much faster in the restricted zone.

Kirsty was born in south London at Croydon in 1959. Her father, Ewan MacColl was a folk singer in the 1950’s. Her mother, Jean Newlove, was a dancer. Although Kirsty MacColl is often remembered for her singing, she primarily considered herself to be a song writer. Among her best known songs are Soho Square, and Fairytale of New York.

Kirsty married a music producer, Steve Lillywhite, in 1985 and focused on raising their two sons. Divorced in 1995, she later fell in love with musician James Knight.

Her whole life was spent in the entertainment world, her father a folk singer, her mother a dancer, her ex-husband a producer, herself a singer and song writer, her current boyfriend a musician. Her friends were entertainers. She had an interesting perspective on the life of an entertainer.

In response to one of her better known songs, Soho Square, a bench has been placed in London’s Soho Square Park in her honour. Every year on the Sunday nearest her 10 October birthday, fans gather at the bench to pay tribute and sing her songs.

Her mother Jean MaColl wrote the following on Kirsty’s website on 10 December 2015: http://www.kirstymaccoll.com

Happy Christmas everybody and may we all have a peaceful New Year around the world.

Since I mentioned the Mexicans being prepared to erect a memorial to Kirsty, their tourist minister gave us barely 24 hours to meet her. Louis responded asking for an alternative time as he was working. She, apparently couldn’t arrange another date whilst over here. It is possible that the holidays are delaying matters but I am awaiting a reply to my recent enquiry. Will keep you informed.

Raise a glass with me for Kirsty especially on the 18th. We continue to remain strong and throughout the world people still write to me, shocked that justice was never achieved.

I think the memorial should be a bench so that tourists visiting Cozumel will be able to remember Soho Square and there will be a link. Who knows? Maybe another birthday link.

Best wishes,
Jean MacColl

She was best known for her vocals alongside The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan on the 1987 Christmas No.1, Fairytale of New York.



Posted by

Stair na hÉireann is steeped in Ireland's turbulent history, culture, ancient secrets and thousands of places that link us to our past and the present. With insight to folklore, literature, art, and music, you’ll experience an irresistible tour through the remarkable Emerald Isle.