The devastated loved ones of the two fishermen found dead aboard a boat which had no carbon monoxide (CO) detector have made heartfelt pleas to others in the industry to ensure they have alarms fitted.
Mark Arries, 26, from Amble, and friend Eddie Ide, 21, who was from the town but was living in Blyth, were discovered dead in their beds on the morning of Wednesday, January 15, in Whitby harbour.
Initial findings show that the pair, who were both fathers to young children, were victims of CO-poisoning. They had lit the grill of a butane-gas cooker in the wheelhouse to warm up the scalloper, M22 Eshcol.
When Mark and Eddie were not seen the next morning, fellow fishermen smashed down the vessel’s doors. The gas grill was still lit, the wheelhouse full of fumes and Mark and Eddie were dead. An interim report into the tragedy by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch has stated that the Eshcol was not fitted with a CO alarm.
Now, Mark’s sister Katy Stewart and Sarah-Louise Tait, who was Eddie’s girlfriend and is mother to their baby son, have issued a warning to other fishermen.
Katy said: “After the tragic loss of my brother, I learned that he could have been saved if there was a CO detector and some kind of heater on board.
“I urge all fishermen to get a CO detector and a proper heating system on their boats, so no family has to go through this.”
Sarah-Louise added: “We want to alert all fishermen and make them aware that tragedies like this can be prevented by making such small changes, no matter the size of the boat.
“I would not wish what we have had to go through on anyone else.”
MP Barry Sheerman, co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group, has urged boat owners to fit alarms, while one Whitby skipper said the tragedy had opened people’s eyes to the risks.
There have also been calls for regulations to be fast-tracked to prevent similar incidents, as there are different requirements for vessels according to their size.
According to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Code of Safe Working practice states that there are ‘requirements’ for vessels between 15 and 24 metres.
It says: ‘Spaces containing an LPG appliance should be provided with a gas detector with an audible alarm and control unit outside the space. In sleeping quarters the alarm should be located inside the compartment.
‘CO monitoring devices should be fitted in all compartments where LPG heating appliances are fitted.’
But, for vessels under 15 metres – Eshcol is 9.95metres – it is only a recommendation.