Highlands & Islands

Skipper 'might have survived with lifejacket', says MAIB report

Anna-Marie II Image copyright MAIB
Image caption Anna-Marie II overturned in September last year

A fishing boat skipper who drowned might have had more chance of surviving if he had been wearing a lifejacket, a report has said.

William Sutherland, 51, died in September last year when the Anna-Marie II capsized as it entered the mouth of Brora river in the Highlands.

A Marine Accident Investigation Branch report said he struck his head, which may have affected his ability to swim.

The MAIB said a lifejacket would have helped keep his head out of the water.

Mr Sutherland had reportedly worn one when working single-handed.

Anna-Marie II was returning from its fishing grounds on 23 September when it was capsized in "unusually high waves".

The skipper and crewman both end up in the water. Neither was wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). The crewman managed to swim ashore.

The alarm was raised by passers-by and a local skipper was able to recover Mr Sutherland within minutes.

'Benefits outweigh risks'

He tried resuscitation while getting his own vessel back into the harbour.

Mr Sutherland was flown to hospital, but could not be saved.

The MAIB said: "Had the skipper been wearing a lifejacket it would have helped keep his head out of the water and might have increased his likelihood of survival."

It added: "The skipper's extensive knowledge of the local conditions did not prevent him being caught out by the size of the waves, which were hard to judge from out at sea and not evident in any forecasts.

"The wearing of personal floatation devices is now mandatory following the significant numbers of fishermen who have drowned following fishing vessel accidents.

"The benefits of wearing a PFD by far outweigh any secondary risks, such as entrapment."

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