Deckhands’ families launch legal action
The families of two deckhands who died after the boat they were working on sank off the Pilbara have launched legal action against two State Government departments and the family of their dead skipper.
The wreckage of Returner was discovered at the bottom of Nickol Bay last July after a dramatic two-week search that was launched when the prawn trawler failed to return from a 10-day fishing trip.
Only the body of skipper Murray Turner was found on the boat.
The bodies of deckhands Chad Fairley, 30, and Mason Carter, 26, have never been recovered.
The loved ones of Mr Fairley and Mr Carter are suing the Department of Fisheries, the Department of Transport, repair company Reel Boats and Maintenance, Mr Turner’s company Maqueline and the executors of his estate, his children Morgan and Emma Turner.
It is believed the boat sank about July 11, the day of its last recorded contact with the Department of Fisheries through a transponder.
At the heart of the families’ legal action against Fisheries is a claim the department did not alert authorities that the boat was missing and made no attempt to contact the vessel until more than three days after the final signal.
According to a Supreme Court writ, the boat became unseaworthy after Mr Turner organised for Reel Boats and Maintenance to extensively refit and modify it.
The families say Mr Turner failed to equip Returner with an operational and properly maintained hydrostatic life raft and took the vessel out in treacherous conditions.
The families say the Department of Transport breached its duty of care by certifying the “unseaworthy” boat. They are seeking damages and costs.
Returner is lifted into a storage yard. Picture: Tom Zaunmayr