Fisherman likely drowned in South Uist loch after falling overboard trying to clear propeller

A Benbecula fisherman who died while working alone on Loch Carnan most likely fell overboard while trying to clear seaweed from his boat’s propeller, according to accident investigators.

By Kevin McRoberts
Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 9:32 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 9:41 am
The creel boat May C from where Michael Monk fell into Loch Carnan. (Photo: MAIB)
The creel boat May C from where Michael Monk fell into Loch Carnan. (Photo: MAIB)

Michael Monk (57) – an experienced fisherman who had owned and operated the creel boat May C for 12 years – fell into the loch in South Uist on July 24 last year.

He was found unconscious in the water by the crew of another fishing boat, but could not be resuscitated.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) found that the most likely explanation was that the skipper ended up in the loch while raising the engine to remove weed, or some other obstruction such as a rope or fishing line, which was fouling the propeller.

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In its report, the MAIB revealed that when Mr Monk was found he was still wearing his boots, suggesting he had not tried to kick them off, probably because he had fallen unconscious very soon after enterting the water.

However, the MAIB said that a critical factor in the cause of drowning was that Mr Monk was not wearing his personal flotation device (PFD).

The report states: “He could not swim, and was likely tired from his day’s fishing, and without a PFD would not have been able to keep his head above water. Had the skipper been wearing a PFD and survived the cold shock, he

still would have had difficulty raising the alarm to summon assistance as he was not carrying his PLB (personal locator beacon).”

The MAIB concluded that had the skipper been wearing his PFD and carrying his PLB, his chances of survival would have been signifcantly increased.

The crews of the Sparkling Star, who found Mr Monk unconscious in the water and tried to revive him by carrying out cardio pulmonary resuscitation, were praised by the MAIB for their efforts in trying to save him.

Sadly, however, after being brought to Loch Carnan’s fuel jetty, he was examined by ambulance paramedics and declared deceased.