An inquest into the death of Innisfail skipper Martin Cunningham is due to be held in May.
An inquest into the death of Innisfail skipper Martin Cunningham is due to be held in May.

Bowen boat crash pre-inquest: conditions ‘near perfect’

THE family of an Innisfail boat skipper who died when two vessels collided off Bowen have heard conditions at the time of the crash were "near perfect" on the water.

Martin Cunningham, 43, and two crew members were on board the Cygnet Lass fishing vessel when it was split in half after the crash with 33m tug boat Svitzer Nana about 10am on May 25, 2016.

During a pre-inquest hearing held yesterday, the Cairns Coroner's Court heard one half of the 18.75m vessel sank, while the other, where the crew was at the time, took on water but remained on the surface.

One of them was rescued by Svitzer Nana crew, while another by rescue divers after surviving in an air pocket inside the vessel and knocking on the hull for help. Mr Cunningham was located deceased.

Coroner Nerida Wilson addressed Mr Cunningham's mother Yvonne who attended yesterday's proceedings and said she hoped the inquest, due to be held in May, would give her some answers.

"In the case of Martin's life we don't to date understand all the facts or have all the facts before us," she said.

"We trust the inquest will provide missing pieces and evidence."

Martin Cunningham
Martin Cunningham

Counsel assisting the Coroner Joseph Crawfoot told the court both vessels were fitted with radars and alarms, and had a lookout.

He said the "near perfect" conditions at the time of the collision included light winds, negligible tides and little swell.

The court heard among the issues the inquest would look at was whether each crew were aware of the other vessel's course, whether the crews kept a proper lookout and the co-ordination of rescue efforts.

The inquest is due to begin in Bowen on May 26 and run for four days.

Mr Crawfoot said among those giving evidence were Mr Cunningham's fellow crewmen, crew from the other vessel and various representatives of the police, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Maritime Safety Queensland.


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