Injured Seafarer Goes Overboard Before Medical Rescue Arrived On Scene

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

As our seaman accident attorneys well know, prompt emergency treatment and rescue is vital to ensuring that anyone who has been involved in an accident at sea obtains the medical attention they need. Unfortunately, time was not on one victim’s side and his family may be entitled to compensation for his death.

The accident happened on Tuesday, Feb. 12, when an injured fisherman fell overboard from his vessel and was lost at sea. The victim, whose name has yet to be released, fell overboard from his vessel just hours before he was to obtain medical help at an Irish port. According to officials, the crewman, who was in his early 40s, fell into the water just three hours before his vessel, the Ecce Homo, was scheduled to dock at Castletownbere in West Cork yesterday.

Officials said the victim was not wearing a life-jacket when he entered the water roughly 40 km southwest of Mizen at around 4 a.m. on Tuesday. Due to the staggeringly cold water temperature – only 10 degrees Celsius – the seafarer only had about four hours to survive in the harsh conditions.

The tragic incident led to an extensive sea and air search missing involving the LÉ Aisling and LÉ Emer, the Castletownbere and Baltimore lifeboats, the Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based Rescue 115, and several local officials. However, the search was suspended at noon local time, after authorities determined the victim would not likely be found alive.

According to reports, the Falmouth Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre contacted the Irish Coast Guard just after 4:30 pm about a crewmember who had suffered injuries in a maritime accident onboard the trawler as it was fishing near Castletownbere.

The Coast Guard’s Waterford-based Rescue 117 helicopter was tasked to offer aid to the victim and refueled at Castletownbere before heading off on the long-range mission. An air corps Casa aircraft provided top cover.

The helicopter arrived at the scene about three hours later, but strong winds and a 6.5 meter swell forced the crew to abandon the rescue operation.

The aircraft flew back to Waterford and remained on standby in hopes that weather conditions would improve. However, when reports came in that the seafarer’s condition was stable, the rescue mission was called off and the trawler continued to sail for Castletownbere, where it was due to arrive at 7 a.m.

Authorities haven’t offered an explanation as to what could have caused the seaman to go overboard, or what led to his injuries. While maritime accidents are common, the fact that the original rescue mission was called off could lead the victim’s family to file a case to obtain compensation for the loss of their loved one.

Many accidents involving crewmembers are caused by someone’s negligence onboard the vessel. Because vessel operators are responsible for the safety of their crew, if any account of negligence or wrongdoing is discovered in an investigation into the incident, the vessel’s operators and possibly the Coast Guard, may be found at least partially responsible for the tragedy.

In the wake of the tragic Thomson Cruises lifeboat accident, which led to the deaths of five crewmembers and injured three others, safety for seafarers and crewmembers has been questioned, yet again.

Our crewmember claims attorneys here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have helped many injured seafarers and their loved ones obtain justice for the negligence of another worker or vessel operator and strive to protect the rights of the injured and deceased. If you or someone you love was hurt or killed while in the service of their vessel, contact our firm today to discuss your options in filing a case.

Photo Credits:

Top Right: Coast Guard Helicopter – irishexaminer.com
Bottom Left: Esse Homo Vessel – marinetraffic.com