Coroner: 'Miracle' that body of young Cork fisherman was found

Coroner: 'Miracle' that body of young Cork fisherman was found

Fisherman Kodie Healy, who failed to return home from fishing in Dunmanus Bay on October 9, 2019. Taken from Instagram

The discovery of the body of a young fisherman thrown overboard from his boat in rough weather off the West Cork coast was "a miracle", a coroner has said.

At the inquest into the death of Kodie Healy (23), tributes were paid to the rescue services and the 600 volunteers who took part in the search for him in the days after he disappeared while fishing in Dunmanus Bay on October 9, 2019.

Huge search

Mr Healy's body was found on October 13 after a huge search across a very large area in what the investigating garda described as "gigantic" Dunmanus Bay. Mr Healy was found at the bottom of a gully, under the water, near Carbery Island.

Coroner Frank O'Connell heard the statement given to gardaí by Kodie's father, John Paul Healy, in which he said his son was a fisherman who operated on boats out of Union Hall.

On the day Kodie went missing, the young man had gone out fishing on his own 20ft half-decker, the Tommy R, looking for mackerel and pollock.

John Paul Healy said he became worried at 6.30pm when he had not returned.

"I tried contacting him on his phone, WhatsApp, Viber, normal phone," Mr Healy said.

He then fetched the portable VHF radio and tried contacting his son on the emergency channel. When this too was unsuccessful, he contacted the Coast Guard at 7.30pm.

Another witness at the inquest, Aodh O'Donnell, coordinated the underwater search which involved a team of 10 divers.

He told gardaí that at 4pm on October 13, 2019, Kodie's body was found underwater at the bottom of a gully on the north side of Carbery Island.

Boat debris

He said the currents would have played a role in transporting Mr Healy's body to that point and that the only guide the divers had as to it being a possible location was that boat debris was found in the same area as it broke up on Carbery Island.

The coroner heard Mr Healy was an experienced seafarer, having fished from a very young age, and that the area would have been known to him.

600 volunteers

Garda Jonathan McCarthy said the RNLI, the Coast Guard, the Navy and Civil Defence all helped in the search, along with 600 volunteers, organised by members of the Healy family.

The coroner said: "It was a miracle that he was found." Garda McCarthy said: "It was."

Mr O'Connell also referred to the Marine Casualty Investigation Board report into the case, which concluded that rough sea conditions in Dunmanus Bay were "more than likely" the main factor in the tragic death of Kodie Healy.

That report suggested Mr Healy had fallen overboard, either while going to the deck or while on the deck.

Post mortem

The results of a post mortem carried out on Mr Healy's body showed very little injury, bar an inch-long bruise on his left thigh, and some bruising which occurred before the incident.

The coroner said this was consistent with Mr Healy having been thrown overboard, while the most significant element of the post mortem was in the respiratory system, consistent with drowning, which he said was the cause of death. Toxicology reports found no traces of alcohol or any other intoxicants.

Mr O'Connell delivered a verdict of death by drowning.

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