Scarborough fishing crewman was pulled overboard by rope, inquest hears

Crew on a Yorkshire Coast fishing boat struggled in vain to save the life of a colleague who had been pulled overboard by a rope putting crab and lobster pots into the sea, an inquest has heard.

Wednesday, 3rd October 2018, 2:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th October 2018, 5:52 am
Darren Morley

A jury returned a verdict of accidental death on Darren Morley, 41, who had been a member of the crew of the Scarborough fishing boat Enterprise

The fisherman died when the tragedy happened off Robin Hood's Bay in November last year.

His widow, Donna, said in a statement at the hearing at Scarborough Town Hall: "I had always dreaded getting a knock on the door (from the police) but I never thought it would happen."

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Ronald Ford, the boat owner, who had been in the wheelhouse, said in a statement that Mr Morley had been a crew member for two years and risk assessments had been regularly carried out on board the boat. ”It is understood that you don’t stand near ropes when shooting pots,” he added. ”I got hold of the rope to try to pull Darren out of the water but the boat began to turn. We all pulled as hard as we could.”

Liam Fishburn, a fellow crewman, said he had previously told Mr Morley about stepping out of the safe zone on the boat when the pots were being plunged into the sea. Some eight pots had gone into the sea when Mr Morley became caught up in a rope loop and he was thrown overboard.

A rescue helicopter and lifeboats from Scarborough and Whitby were launched and Mr Morley, of Seamer Street, Scarborough, was hauled back on board the boat and a mercy dash made to James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough, but desperate attempts to save him failed.

Adrian Lambert, an inspector with the Marine Accident Investigation Bureau, said areas of fishing boats were cordoned off when pots were being put into the sea in a self-shooting system. Mr Morley had become snared. "It was not surprising that he was unable to prevent himself being dragged into the sea and the crew had no time to cut the rope. The deckhands had been very quick to respond to pull Darren to the surface."

Assistant North Yorkshire East Coroner John Broadbridge said: "For some reason Mr Morley stepped away from the safe zone on the boat. He made a move at the wrong time. His leg got caught and he was quickly pulled overboard. Mr Fishburn had twice warned him about stepping out of the safe zone. Mr Morley would have been aware of moving from the safe zone."

Speaking to the Scarborough News after the accident, friend Chris Townsend, who is manager of TG Wood Fish Preparation and Wholesale, said: "Everyone in the harbour is in shock. He was a good lad and everyone liked him."

A number of people paid tribute to Darren on Facebook at the time, one saying: "So sad, Darren was such a lovely, caring man. My thoughts with his family."

Another added: "Very sad news. Thoughts go to his family and friends. It's a dangerous place working at sea."