Deck­hands’ fam­i­lies launch le­gal ac­tion

Pilbara News - - News - Elle Far­cic

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

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