Scottish fisherman ‘may have lived’ if he had worn life jacket

An experienced fisherman wasn’t wearing a life jacket when he fell from his boat and drowned, a fatal accident inquiry has heard.

The body of Alasdair Macleod, 57, from Applecross, Highlands, wasn’t found until three weeks later, Portree Sheriff Court heard.

He was probably pulled into the sea as he was working on his creels.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A three-day, full-scale sea search for Mr Macleod took place after his boat, the 27ft Varuna, was spotted lying empty with its engine running, near to Aird Dhubh pier on 20 November, 2017, by a passing pilot.

The body of Mr Macleod, a third-generation fisherman, was not found until three weeks later, at Staffin Bay.

In his Procurator findings, Fiscal Geoff Main said he believed Mr Macleod had fallen overboard before the boat ran aground.

He said Mr Macleod was at risk, as he was not wearing a personal flotation device and he could not be found quickly because he was not carrying a personal locator beacon.

Mr Main said he believed that Mr Macleod may have “fallen overboard while returning to the mooring” and believed there may have been an accident involving a cutout shooting gate that had not been replaced.

Read More

Read More
Police failed to note concerns for vulnerable man later found dead

The court heard evidence from marine investigation officer Robert Cranston, of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

He said: “Mr Macleod had not completed the annual self-certification declarations required.”

The report into the accident concluded: “The slot-in transom door had not been fitted following shooting and, with no means of fall prevention in use, there was an increased risk of Mr Macleod falling overboard through the shooting gate in the transom, and it is possible that he did so.”

Sheriff Eilidh MacDonald expressed her condolences to Mr Macleod’s wife and sons. She added: “I hope to have my determination in this matter as soon as possible.”

An investigation by the Marine Accident Investigation concluded in July last year his chances of survival would have been “significantly increased” if he had worn a life jacket, or PFD, and an alarm.

The report added: “While individual survival times in cold water vary, had Alasdair been wearing a PFD, and given the speed with which a search was initiated, his chances of survival would have been significantly increased.”