President of the Publishing House behind ‘Harry Potter,’ dies in speedboat accident witnessed by husband and children

Adrienne Vaughan, the 44-year-old president of Bloomsbury USA publishing house, tragically lost her life in a horrifying accident off the coast of Italy. The speedboat she was on collided with a sailing ship, in front of her husband and two young children.

Local media reports indicate that upon impact, Adrienne was thrown into the water between the two vessels and fatally struck by the speedboat’s propeller. A harrowing video captured by a wedding party guest aboard the sailing ship shows the devastating moment of the collision. Swimsuit-clad revelers were dancing to the Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody” when chaos suddenly unfolded.

The shocked guests onboard questioned what had occurred, and a man can be heard explaining that their ship had collided with another. As the music ceased, people rushed to the sides to look over, only to see Adrienne’s teenage daughter floating amidst the debris in the water. It was a tragic and heartbreaking incident that has deeply affected her family and all who knew her.

United Airlines flight to Rome rapidly drops 28,000 feet in 10 minutes before making course correction
Adrienne Vaughan, 44, president of Bloomsbury USA, right, was killed in a horrific speedboat accident in Italy Thursday.
Mike White/Facebook
United Airlines flight to Rome rapidly drops 28,000 feet in 10 minutes before making course correction
The speedboat Vaughan’s family of four had chartered plowed into a sailing ship off the Amalfi coast near Naples.
Rai Radio1/Twitter

Pietro Iuzzolino, a bartender on the sailing ship “Tortuga,” reported that after the collision, Adrienne Vaughan, the New York-based publishing president, was seen in the water being supported by her husband and children.

“She didn’t have an arm and the nape of her neck was white, as if no blood was flowing,” he told the Italian newspaper Corriere del Mezzogiorno.

“It was terrible.”

In addition to Adrienne Vaughan’s tragic passing, her husband, Mike White, was also injured in the speedboat collision. He was taken to a hospital in Castiglione di Ravello, where he underwent surgery for injuries to his left shoulder, as reported by local sources.

Fortunately, their children, Leanna (14) and Mason (11), did not suffer any physical injuries. However, they were understandably treated for shock after the traumatic incident.

The 30-year-old speedboat driver involved in the collision was also hospitalized with injuries to his ribs and pelvis, as reported by the Italian news agency ANSA. According to the same source, the driver allegedly failed toxicology tests conducted after the crash, raising suspicions of possible intoxication.

Witnesses, including Pietro Iuzzolino, the bartender on the sailing ship “Tortuga,” reported seeing the speedboat driver vomiting after the accident, leading them to believe he might have been intoxicated.

The tragic incident occurred just days after Adrienne Vaughan and her family arrived in Italy. Less than 24 hours before the accident, her husband had shared joyful photos of the family posing at various landmarks in Rome, including the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum.

Following their short stay in Rome, the family made their way to the picturesque town of Positano on the Amalfi coast near Naples. On Thursday, they chartered a 29-foot speedboat with a skipper from Nerano to explore the stunning Furore fjord. Unfortunately, during the tour, the speedboat unexpectedly made a 180-degree turn and collided with the 130-foot “Tortuga,” resulting in the devastating accident, as reported by local media.

The larger craft, “Tortuga,” was carrying 85 people, including German and American tourists who were celebrating a wedding when the tragic collision occurred.

Pietro Iuzzolino, the bartender on “Tortuga,” was in the process of making a cocktail when he heard a sudden and loud bang. He rushed to the scene and witnessed Adrienne Vaughan and her family struggling in the water.

Vaughan was rescued from the water and brought to shore. First responders made valiant efforts to save her life by performing CPR. However, despite their best efforts, she tragically succumbed to her injuries.

Following the tragic collision, a medical helicopter was called to the scene to airlift the gravely injured Adrienne Vaughan. However, despite their efforts, she tragically passed away before she could be taken to a hospital, as reported locally.

The captain of the sailing ship, aged 55, tested negative for drugs and alcohol, according to the same local reports.

Adrienne Vaughan had recently assumed the role of president at Bloomsbury USA in September 2021, following a year of service as executive director and COO. Her untimely death is a devastating loss for the publishing industry and her loved ones.

Adrienne Vaughan, a graduate of NYU Stern School of Business with an MBA in finance, had a successful career in the executive ranks of the Disney publishing group before assuming her role at Bloomsbury USA.

As of Friday, Bloomsbury USA had not yet responded to messages regarding the tragic incident.

Both Adrienne Vaughan and her husband, Mike White, studied business at William & Mary and tied the knot in November 2008.

Mike White has an extensive career as the vice president of finance at Scholastic, where he has served for over 13 years.

The family, consisting of Adrienne Vaughan, Mike White, and their children, are seasoned international travelers. Just a few weeks before the tragic accident, they had traveled to London. In April, they enjoyed a vacation in the Bahamas, where they engaged in memorable activities such as swimming with dolphins and feeding sea lions.

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