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Fisherman died after accident with door on Spanish-registered trawler

August 22nd, 2019 11:50 AM

By Southern Star Team

The trawler Novo Alborada.

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A VERDICT of accidental death has been recorded at an inquest into a trawler accident involving a 51-year-old fisherman in Castletownbere.

Olounfumi Eugene McCauley, who was originally from Sierra Leone, but was living in Gran Canaria, passed away from injuries he incurred following an accident on the Spanish-registered Novo Alborada in Castletownbere on June 24th, 2018.

A file was sent to the DPP in relation to the matter but no prosecution was take, the inquest heard.  

The evidence of fisherman Solomon Obery Binery was read into evidence at Cork Coroner’s Court last week. 

He said a trawler door was being brought onto the vessel for maintenance and inspection, and the plan was to use a wire to lift the door and another wire to pull it up to deck.

He said that the door slipped and fell into the water, pulling on the combination rope with speed. As a result, Mr McCauley was hit on the arms and neck by a hook and shackle. 

Health and safety inspector David Barry told Cork Coroner’s Court that Mr McCauley was one of three men who were carrying out a routine inspection of the starboard trawler doors. These inspections are carried out every four to six weeks. 

A lifting operation was in place to bring a trawler door onto the vessel, but the trawler door fell into the sea, pulling on the combined rope causing it to move at ‘lightning speed’, said Mr Barry, and Mr McCauley was hit in the process. 

Paramedics rushed to assist the fisherman and he was transferred to Cork University Hospital (CUH) for treatment. He died three days later. 

Mr Barry said the hook used for lifting shouldn’t have been an open hook. He issued a recommendation that in such procedures a locked hook be used. He said Grip Latch B was also defective.

Mr Barry said that all foreign registered trawlers are required to have risk assessments.

  Assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster carried out a postmortem on the deceased at CUH. She said he incurred crush injuries consistent with being struck in the abdomen by a weight. 

Coroner Philip Comyn said it was an unfortunate accident that was ‘in some ways’ preventable. He said a grip latch also opened under stress, and he emphasised that there should be a system for checking latches. 

 He also expressed concern that foreign registered vessels often fail to have safety standards that comply with their Irish counterparts. After a few minutes of deliberations a verdict of accidental death was recorded in the case. Mr Comyn thanked the jury for their diligent work and said that he hoped that the recommendations would be acted upon. 

Both the coroner and Sgt Fergus Twomey extended their condolences to the family at their sad loss.

No family members were present in court, but the relatives of the fisherman will be notified of the inquest findings, and messages of condolence will also be relayed to them. 

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