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PFD Not Worn by Angler who Drowned in Lough Mask - MCIB Report

2nd September 2020
The lake boat involved in the incident. The lake boat involved in the incident. Photo: MCIB

An angler who drowned in Lough Mask in Co Mayo over a year ago was not wearing a lifejacket, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has found.

A report by the MCIB published yesterday (Tues, September 1) has been unable to establish the cause of the incident in which a 78-year old experienced angler drowned in March 2019.

However, it says that the fact that the man’s boat was found in an upright position would suggest that he fell overboard and was unable to get back into the vessel.

The man, who lived locally near Lough Mask, left Cushlough slip near Ballinrobe at approximately 12.30 on March 8th, 2019.

Weather conditions deteriorated during the day from westerly force four to force six, with wind gusts of force seven.

The alarm was raised at 7.23 pm after the man failed to return at 6 pm and his mobile phone was off.

A local person travelled to his house to see if he had returned home and then contacted the gardai at Ballinrobe.

An air and coast search by the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 118 helicopter and Corrib Mask Search and Rescue found nothing, but the vessel was located the following day on the eastern shore of Lough Mask, about 1.5 nautical miles north of Cushlough slip.

The vessel was reported to be in “good order”, according to the MCIB report, with the outboard engine in the lifted position and the port side oar in the shipped position.

The report says the vessel’s starboard side oar was subsequently found in the water nearby, along with the angler’s cap.

A personal flotation device (PFD), fishing gear, supplies and rod were in the stowed position in the vessel.

A PFD stowed in forward part of the lake boat under the gunwale Photo: MCIBA PFD stowed in the forward part of the lake boat under the gunwale Photo: MCIB

The search was hampered by prolonged bad weather periods. The man’s body was located on March 30th near where the vessel had been found. He was not wearing a PFD.

“The casualty was considered locally to be an experienced angler,” the report says, and “had been angling on Lough Mask for many years, and had entered numerous fishing competitions”.

However, it says that “even an experienced angler would have found the conditions challenging”.

An inquest on November 28th, 2019, recorded the cause of death as asphyxia due to drowning.

The MCIB report notes that Lough Mask has “no navigation marks to warn water users of danger”, and “with water levels at the time of the year when the incident occurred, awareness of hazards below the water would be all the more difficult”.

Water temperature at the time of the incident was 8°C, and the report notes that cold water shock is a factor in water temperatures below 15°C.

“This, combined with the casualty not wearing a PFD, would have considerably reduced his chances of survival”, it states.

The MCIB recommends that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport issue a marine notice, reminding mariners of their obligations to comply with the “Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft”.

It says special emphasis should be placed on the need to be aware of the current forecast for the area; the requirement to wear a PFD, and the need for a boarding ladder, or “other effective means of quickly re-boarding a vessel”.

It says “clubs should be requested to bring this notice to the attention of their members”.

Published in MCIB
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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