Fisherman drowned after being dragged overboard by 'chain weight'

John Wilson was pronounced dead after being trapped in rigging and hauled into the North Sea.

Scottish fisherman drowned after being dragged overboard by ‘chain weight’ near the Scottish Borders St Abbs Lifeboat

A fisherman drowned after being pulled overboard by a chain weight while working on a boat around the Scottish Borders.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) concluded their fatal accident inquiry into the death of John Wilson who died almost three years ago.

The inquiry found that the 64-year-old, who lived in St Abbs, was pulled overboard after his foot became entangled in a chain weight on August 28, 2021.

Mr Wilson was on board his boat the Harriet J near Meikle Poo Craig when the incident happened.

The inquiry found that he was in the water for approximately one hour and 20 minutes before being found.

Mr Wilson was alone aboard the Harriet J at the time of the accident. Supplied

The investigation was a mandatory inquiry since the death of Mr Wilson occurred while in the course of his employment.  

Following the inquiry, the Sheriff recommended that crew members of single person operated fishing vessels should wear Personal Locator Beacons and Personal Floatation Devices at all times whilst at sea.

Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on fatalities investigations for COPFS said: “We note and welcome the Sheriff’s determination.    

“The Procurator Fiscal ensured that the full facts and circumstances of Mr Wilson’s death were led in evidence at the mandatory Fatal Accident Inquiry.”   

A probe by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) determined in 2023 it was likely Mr Wilson was trapped in rigging attached to a chain weight which took him off his feet, causing him to hit his head before being pulled through the shooting door.

It also stated he was not wearing a lifejacket at the time of the accident and his inability to call for help “may have been caused by a pre-existing heart condition”.

He died due to the effects of “cold incapacitation”, the report said.

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