Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Keven Herbert Leban MILLER (aka Herb Miller)

Inquest into the Death of Keven Herbert Leban MILLER (aka Herb Miller)

Delivered on :13 June 2017

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Linton

Recommendations :N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : The deceased was an experienced mariner who was last seen alive on 12 February 2009 when he set out to sea near Kalbarri in a new boat he had just collected. At the time he was 53 years old and lived in Useless Loop in Shark Bay.  He was planning to pilot the boat back to Shark Bay.

On 16 February 2009 the deceased was rostered on the evening shift at his work, but he failed to turn up at work. He was a reliable employee so his absence caused his manager to become concerned.  The deceased’s manager made attempts to locate the deceased but was unsuccessful.  The next morning the deceased’s manager contacted the Kalbarri Police and reported the deceased as missing.  Local police notified Water Police and a full scale air and sea search was undertaken in an attempt to locate the deceased.  There was no sign of the deceased or his boat.

The Court heard evidence that when the deceased set out on his solo ocean journey on 12 February 2009 the boat was fitted with an old style EPIRB and flares. The deceased had equipped himself with a hand held GPS and the boat was fitted with a marine radio with antenna.  The boat was fitted with two bilge pumps, one of which was only manually operated but the other was selectable between manual and automatic, and there were no major leaks in the boat.  The boat had a life raft on board, together with a yellow plastic dinghy and an aluminium dinghy on the deck and an outboard motor.  The boat had been filled up with fuel, which used approximately 12 litres per hour and the full tank held 1600 litres.

At the inquest the Court heard evidence that the deceased did not follow recommended practice to notify the local volunteer search and rescue group, or a family member or friend, about his departure and predicted arrival in Shark Bay, so his absence was not reported to police for several days. Despite the large search and rescue operation conducted over a number of days, no sign of him or his boat have ever been found.

At the conclusion of the evidence the Coroner was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased has died, but was unable to find as to when, where and how he died. However, the Coroner was able to determine that the deceased died sometime on or about 12 February 2009.  As the deceased’s remains have not been discovered the Coroner was unable to find how the cause of death could be determined.  Accordingly the Coroner made an open finding as to the manner of the death.

Catch Words : Missing Person : Dangers of Solo Ocean Journey : Open Finding.

Last updated: 30-Apr-2019

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