THE uncle of Stephen Fergus, who was killed in a boating accident last year, says that last week’s report into his nephew’s death was disappointing.
Jim Fergus says that fact that the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) did not mention the lack of a low water slipway in the Dundalk as a contributing factor in Stephen’s death is disappointing.
Stephen Fergus died when he attempted to get into his own boat from a punt, and is believed to fallen into the water and drowned. At the time Stephen was attempting to go to the aid of a friend, Pat O’Brien, whose boat had run into difficulty.
Jim Fergus says that Stephen would not have had to help his friend and as he believes that Pat O’Brien would have been able to use a low water slipway.
“The report says that Pat’s engine stopped working but it is my belief that if there was a slipway Pat would have been able to get his boat out of the water, without having to call Stephen.
“Pat was unable to get out of the water as he had missed the tide, and he would have face hours in the boat waiting for the tide to rise.
“There is also the issue regarding a quick access to the river and estuary. The Dundalk Sub Aqua team had to wait over 30 minutes to be lowered into the water, while the Coast Guard had to gain access to the river from a point further down the coast.”
Jim Fergus has been liasing with the Louth Environmental Group (LEG), who have been campaigning for a low water slipway for a number of years.
“We have been campaigning for a number of years on the lack of a low water slipway facility in Dundalk. Boats have been damaged and for various reasons the building of a slipway has been blocked,” said Mark Fitzsimons.
“We feel that the tragic case of Stephen Fergus illustrates the need for a such a slipway in Dundalk, as this tragedy could have been averted if there was one.
“I would say to the authorities: do we have to wait until a child falls into the river, for them to realise that this facility is needed.”