Tuesday 22 October 2019

One of Tit Bonhomme crew died from hypothermia

Saied Aly Edin
Saied Aly Edin
Survivor of the tragedy, Abdelbaky Mohammed
Michael Hayes the skipper of the Tit Bonhomme
Shaban Attia
Caitlin Ui hAodha, wife of skipper Michael Hayes
Wael Mohammed
Kevin Kershaw

Ralph Riegel

THE five fishermen lost in the Tit Bonhomme trawler tragedy died from either drowning or hypothermia.

The revelation came as medical evidence was heard on the second day of the Cork coroner's inquest into the January 15 2012 tragedy.

Only one crewman survived the sinking on January 15 2012 off Glandore in west Cork, Egyptian Abdou Mohamad (41).

The five fishermen who died included skipper Michael Hayes (52), Kevin Kershaw (21) and three Egyptian fishermen, Wael Mohamad (32), Shaban Attia (26) and Saied aly Eldin (24).

Mr Kershaw was on his first ever fishing expedition.

Pathologist Dr Declan Gilsenan told the inquest that Mr aly Eldin, in his opinion, died from hypothermia rather than drowning.

The post mortem examination was conducted on February 10.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, performed post mortem examinations on the remaining four victims.

One man, Attia Shaban, also sustained "a lethal skull fracture" as he was thrown against either the sinking trawler or rocks during the tragedy.

However, like his colleagues, he drowned.

Relatives of five fishermen who died earlier wept as they listened to the crew’s desperate 999 calls and pleas for help.

The calls, made in the minutes after the trawler struck rocks on Adam Island at the entrance to Glandore Bay in west Cork, revealed the crew's increasingly desperate calls for a rescue helicopter as huge waves dragged the trawler off rocks and began to rip it apart.

The first official rescue unit was operational at the scene 53 minutes after the first call was logged.

Two 999 calls were made at 5.46am and 5.49am from the trawler on the mobile phone of Mr Kershaw.

Kevin: "Hello...we need a helicopter quick...we are after hitting the island on the way into Union Hall...we are at, helicopter please, we are after hitting the island off...going into Union Hall. Boat is aground, the vessel...ah shit, is the 'Tit Bonhomme'. please hurry."

The call ends and a second call is made.

Kevin: "We need a helicopter, quick please...coastguard please...we are at sea here...please can you get a helicopter here...we are after hitting the island going into Union Hall."

Skipper Michael Hayes then comes on the line.

"Send the helicopter immediately...she (is) three quarters sunk. Please hurry up, please...its come off the rocks...just get on...scramble the helicopter...I'll talk to you then...please scramble the helicopter...ah s**t."

Mr Kershaw again takes the phone as the sound of waves smashing into the trawler are audible in the background.

"We need a boat...we need a helicopter...what is the nature (of the emergency)? We're sinking...we're going underwater. We are three-quarters underwater please."

Another voice comes on the line before the 999 call ends.

"The island off Union Hall for f***s sake. Agh...we're at...we're at Union Hall...come on, we'e going to capsize."

West Cork Coroner Frank O'Connell heard that Mr Mohamad spent almost three hours swimming to safety.

When he was found by Toe Head Coastguard volunteer, Lee Miles, the exhausted and frozen fisherman told his rescuer: "Let me die, just let me die."

A 14 month Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the tragedy said it was most likely caused by a number of factors including crew fatigue and navigational issues.

The inquest is expected to conclude today

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