Investigation into fishing tragedy holds safety messages

15 February 2005

The importance of wearing a life jacket and having communication equipment on hand has again been highlighted by accident investigation findings, this time into the tragic disappearance of the skipper and sole occupant of a fishing boat off the coast of Timaru on 6 March 2004.

The skipper of the Diane, Mr Low, was due home at 4pm. Searchers found his fishing boat at 6.15pm idling in water with no one on board.

The Maritime Safety Authority’s investigation reached the view that the lack of any distress message by Mr Low indicates he was probably lost overboard following a sudden catastrophic event that prevented him from accessing any communications equipment.

Maritime Safety Authority Chief Accident Investigator, Mike Eno, says because the skipper wasn’t wearing his lifejacket, once in the water he would probably have become quickly exhausted and drowned.

“This is such a sad tragedy. If Mr Low had been wearing his lifejacket, he’d have had greater buoyancy and thermal protection, which would have helped extend his time in the water until rescuers found himAnd if he’d had a cell phone sealed in a plastic bag or a waterproof VHF radio in his pocket, he’d have been able to call for help.

“We can’t stress enough that life jackets save lives, both in the commercial and recreational sectors. And especially if you’re out alone on the water and get into trouble, you need to be able to communicate your distress so you have a greater chance of being found quickly,” he said.

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