Lack of lifejacket part of reason for Mayo fisherman’s death - report
Aisling Patrick boat capsized after being struck by two waves in choppy waters
The Air Corps’ maritime patrol aircraft was in the area at the time and saw a flare set off from the life raft and was able to winch the men out of the water. File photograph: Irish Air Corps Flickr
The death of a mackerel fisherman off the Mayo coast in April has been attributed in part to an absence of training and a failure on the part of the crew to wear buoyancy aids, according to a report from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board.
Father of three John Healy, aged in his 50s, was from the Erris area of Co Mayo
Healy and two others were on board the Aisling Patrick fishing boat when it got into difficulty some 25km ( 16 miles) off the Mayo coast at about 12.30pm on April 10th after it was struck by a two successive waves in choppy waters and capsized.
The report says the skipper was able to swim out from underneath the capsized vessel while the other two crewmembers were thrown into the water.
The liferaft surfaced from under the vessel and one crewmember inflated it and climbed aboard. He threw a rescue line towards the skipper but the third crewmember was in the water face down and did not make any attempt to swim or stay afloat.
Malin Head Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centre picked up the broadcast and launched an emergency vessel almost immediately, but incomplete information in the signal delayed rescue attempts.
However the Air Corps’ maritime patrol aircraft was in the area at the time and saw a flare set off from the life raft and was able to winch the men out of the water.
The report says a postmortem on the deceased man had found the cause of death as ‘sudden cardiac death secondary to severe coronary artery disease’ .
However it stressed that the results of the autopsy provided to the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) at the time of publication were provisional and stressed that the determination of the cause of death would be a matter for the Coroner’s inquest.
The investigation was unable to determine conclusively the cause of the capsize “but it would appear that the vessel’s stability was reduced due to the ingress of water and as a consequence capsized in the prevailing sea conditions”.
It said the absence of “any formal operational training for the crew of this vessel resulted in poor operational procedures and incorrect actions during an emergency situation”.
It added that of the top ten factors contributing to loss of life at sea in Ireland identified by the Department of Transport, three were present in the incident namely the need for an enhanced maritime safety culture, a lack of crew training and the non-wearing of lifejacket or buoyancy aid.