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Lifejacket inadequate - coroner

Last updated 05:00 14/03/2014

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An experienced Timaru commercial fisherman drowned as a result of multiple factors after his boat capsized off Timaru, a coroner has found.

Peter Hunter was reported missing at sea on November 23, 2011, after he failed to return from a day's trawling on his vessel, the Journeyman.

The weather was fine and the sea calm with little or no wind, coroner Richard McElrea said in his report, released yesterday.

About 12.30pm, Mr Hunter, 58, sent his wife a text message, saying he would head home in half an hour. Later that evening he had still not returned, and a search began at 11pm.

His body was found about 12 hours later, in the water, nine nautical miles off the coast. He was wearing a lifejacket.

A sudden wind change, coupled with stability factors of the trawler, possibly caused the vessel to capsize, the coroner said.

Once in the water, Mr Hunter had no means of raising the alarm as he did not have a waterproof communication device. He had an emergency position-indicating beacon on board, but would not have been able to get to it.

He was wearing a lifejacket - "a type 402 buoyancy vest" - which would have kept him alive for several hours, but was not adequate for offshore use. He was unable to access the the liferaft.

Mr Hunter was from a long-established Timaru fishing family.

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- The Timaru Herald

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