Accidental death is Cork court verdict on Sierra Leone fisherman

A verdict of accidental death was recorded at an inquest into an accident involving a 51-year-old fisherman in Castletownbere aboard fishing vessel Novo Alborada (IMO 9242027) on June 24th 2018.

Olounfumi Eugene McCauley, who was originally from Sierra Leone, but was living in Gran Canaria, died from injuries suffered in an accident on the ship. A file was sent to the DPP in relation to the matter but no prosecution was undertaken. Fisherman Solomon Obery Binery said in a written statement to Cork Coroner’s Court last week that 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. 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. 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.

The victim was transferred to Cork University Hospital (CUH) for treatment but 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.

A pathologist’s report found that Mr McCauley 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 emphasized that there should be a system for checking latches. He also expressed concern that foreign-registered vessels often failed to have safety standards that complied with Irish regulations. 2001-built, Spain-flagged, 391 gt Novo Alborada is owned and managed by Alboarada Pesquerias of A Coruna, Spain. It is entered with British Marine on behalf of Jose Cesareo SL