€262k for family of drowned Egyptian fisherman

The family of an Egyptian fisherman who died when the Tit Bonhomme trawler sank off Glandore, Co Cork, three years ago has settled its High Court action for €262,700.

Father-of-two Wael Mohamed, 35, drowned along with four others, including the skipper Michael Hayes, when the Tit Bonhomme ran aground at Adam’s Island in Glandore Harbour on January 15, 2012.

In the High Court yesterday, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told an action taken on behalf of Mr Mohamed’s widow and children had been settled without an admission of liability.

The sole survivor of the tragedy, Wael Mohamed’s brother, Abdelbaky Mohamed, had sued Caitlin Hayes, the wife of the late Mr Hayes and the owner of the trawler, as a result of his brother’s death.

Mr Hayes, 21-year-old Kevin Kershaw, and two other Egyptian crewmen, Saied Ali Eldin and Attaia Shaban, also died in the tragedy.

It was claimed that there was an alleged failure to ensure that a distress call was made either immediately or at all, and that there was an alleged failure to navigate the ship in a safe manner.

It was further claimed that there was an alleged failure to provide and follow acceptable standards in health and safety on the vessel.

The claims were denied.

Two years ago, a jury at the inquest into the five deaths on the fishing trawler returned verdicts of accidental death.

Senior counsel Hugh O’Keeffe said Mr Mohamed’s widow, Neama Ahmed Mohamed, and his two young children had come to Ireland for the case and Abdelbaky Mohamed and the the rest of his family had waived their rights in favour of the widow and children in relation to the case.

Mr O’Keeffe told the court the Tit Bonhomme had departed from Union Hall for a five-day fishing trip on January 13, 2012.

Water entered the wheelhouse on January 15 and there was also an oil leak and the decision was taken to return to port. Counsel said it would be his side’s case that Mr Hayes should have notified the Coast Guard that they would be limping back to port.

The trawler was making for Glandore at a slow speed but, counsel said, at some stage it went off autopilot. Only two of the men, including Abdelbaky Mohamed, managed to get lifejackets on.

Counsel said Abdelbaky Mohamed survived in the water for two hours until rescuers came across him. Two 999 calls were made from the trawler, but no message was sent by either the Digital Selective Calling radio or the McMurdo radio on board.

Abdelbaky Mohamed, said Mr O’Keeffe, was the sole survivor of the tragedy.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was a very tragic case where a number of people had lost their lives.

More than two years ago, the family of Mr Kershaw, who was born in Dublin but lived in Clonakilty, Co Cork, settled a High Court action for €40,000.

The International Transport Workers Federation, which brought the case on behalf of Mr Mohamed’s family, said that it welcomed the outcome of the case and was confident it would be successful in pursuing other outstanding cases, including two more involving the Tit Bonhomme.

ITF co-ordinator Ken Fleming said similar tragedies are all too likely until maritime safety training specific to the fishing industry is put in place and regulations are properly enforced.


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