Family receive €40k following fisherman’s death

The family of Kevin Kershaw, who died on his first ever fishing trip when the Tit Bonhomme trawler went down off the Cork coast in January, has settled a High Court action for damages for €40,000.

Mr Justice Michael Peart yesterday approved the settlement to the family of the 21-year-old, who drowned when the fishing vessel sank in heavy seas.

Mr Kershaw had just begun his employment as a trainee fisherman on the Tit Bonhomme when, on Jan 15, it sank near Adam’s Island at the entrance to Glandore Harbour, off Union Quay, Co Cork.

Mr Kershaw, from Dublin, had been living with an aunt in Clonakilty for the previous seven years.

He, along with the owner and master of the vessel, Michael Hayes, 52, and crewmates Wael Mohamed, 35, Attaia Shaban, 26, and Saied Ali Eldin, 22, — died in the tragedy. The only crew member to survive was Abdo Mohamad, brother of Wael.

The tragedy sparked one of the largest and most concentrated search and recovery operations in the history of the State.

Rescue workers were supported every day for more than three weeks by hundreds of local volunteers who joined the sea and shore searches, and who organised feeding stations on the pier.

Their combined efforts resulted in the recovery of three bodies — those of Mr Kershaw, Mr Mohamed, and Mr Shaban — within days. But the search for the skipper, Mr Hayes, and the remaining Egyptian crewman, Mr Ali Eldin, continued for another 26 days.

Arising out of his death, Mr Kershaw’s father, Patrick Daniel Kershaw, of Harrington St, Dublin, brought an action seeking damages against Mr Hayes’s legal representative, Kathleen Hayes, c/o Marine Response, Prestwick Park, Newcastle, England.

The settlement, which was made without admission of liability, was approved at the High Court yesterday by Mr Justice Peart, who offered his sympathies to the Kershaw family on what was “a sad and very tragic loss”.

In his action, Mr Kershaw Sr claimed his son’s fatal injuries were caused by the negligence and breach of duty of Mr Hayes. It was alleged that the late skipper failed to have adequate regard for Mr Kershaw’s safety, failed to consider or take heed of rocks, and that the trawler was not properly maintained, was defective and dangerous, and was not seaworthy.

It was further claimed that Mr Hayes attempted to land the vessel when conditions were unsafe, failed to divert to an alternative, safe harbour, and navigated the trawler’s course in a manner that caused Mr Kershaw’s death.

Mr Justice Peart heard that there was an agreed contribution towards costs.

Richard McDonnell, SC for Mr Kershaw Sr, said Kevin Kershaw had gone to work on the fishing vessel in order to save money to go to Australia. It was his first job, and counsel said he died on his second day working on the boat.

Mr McDonnell said it was their case that Mr Kershaw’s death was as a result of the Tit Bonhomme striking a rock and sinking, but nobody knew for certain what exactly occurred.

Mr McDonnell said part of the award was to cover funeral expenses. The rest of the award is to be divided between his father, his mother, Margaret Williamson, his aunt, Ann O’Driscoll, with whom he had lived for some time, as well as his five younger brothers and sisters.

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