Coroners Court returns verdict on tragic boating death in February

A verdict of accidental death has been returned at the inquest into the death of a local father of two, who drowned after going to the assistance of a friend whose boat had become stranded by the tide

A verdict of accidental death has been returned at the inquest into the death of a local father of two, who drowned after going to the assistance of a friend whose boat had become stranded by the tide

Witness Pat O’Brien in a deposition, told the inquest he had been chatting to Stephen Fergus about their boats earlier in the afternoon and when they parted the father of two went up the river to give his boat a run and Mr. O’Brien went in the opposite direction towards Dundalk Bay.

The witness said when he returned, he had seen Stephen Fergus’ boat tied up and shortly afterwards, had realised that he would have to anchor where he was and would not be able to get off the boat for three or four hours.

He said he rang Stephen Fergus who said he would be over shortly. The inquest heard about 30 or 40 minutes later, he rang Lisa Fergus who said her husband had left sometime earlier.

The alarm was raised after it was discovered that a punt or small rowing boat the 48 year old would have borrowed to get out to his boat, was missing.

Members of the Drogheda coastguard recovered his body which was found on mussel beds off Bellurgan Point.

The post mortem confirmed cause of death was drowning.

When Mr. Fergus’ family asked if faint marks on his face might indicate that he had fallen and been knocked out, Pathologist Dr. Helen Barrett said they weren’t particularly severe and while they could have been due to a fall she could not definitively say.

Louth County Coroner Ronan Maguire said there was only one possible verdict he could return - accidental death.

Speaking afterwards, Mr. Fergus’ wife and family thanked all of the emergency services who took part in the search.