Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Norman Leslie BALE

Inquest into the Norman Leslie BALE

Delivered on :29 March 2018

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : State Coroner

Recommendations :N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : The deceased at the time of his death was a 53 year old man living with a house mate near Karratha. He was unmarried and had no children.  In September 2016 he went on a fishing trip on his own, and failed to return.  His body has never been recovered.

The focus of the inquest was on the events leading to the deceased departure on 23 September 2016 for his fishing trip, the risks attending that departure, and the outcomes of the search and rescue efforts.

On the evening of Friday 23 September 2016 the deceased launched his dinghy at the Back each boat ramp at Nickol Bay, near Karratha. The dinghy was laden with equipment and sat low in the water as it was launched.  Unfortunately the dinghy and the engine were both in poor condition and not suitable for use on the waters off Nickol Bay.  The deceased chose not to take any safety equipment with him and refused an offer of a life jacket from a friend.

The dinghy was found adrift and mostly submerged just off the ocean side (north-west) of Dixon Island on the morning of Tuesday 27 September 2016. The deceased was not on board.

A comprehensive land and sea search was undertaken and the State Coroner was satisfied that if the deceased was alive during the duration of the search operations and he had reached land, he would have been sighted.

The State Coroner was satisfied that the death of the deceased has been established beyond all reasonable doubt. The State Coroner found that the deceased died between 23 and 27 September 2016 as a result of immersion.  The State Coroner found death occurred by way of misadventure.

The State Coroner noted the Department of Transport’s current review of safety equipment that is presently required to be carried on recreational craft on rivers or the seas. The State Coroner commented on the ongoing need for all operators of vessels to take safety requirements seriously and to treat the safety requirements under the regulations as minimum requirements.

Catch Words : Boating Risk Factors : Safety Equipment on Board : Life Jackets, Flares and EPIRBs : Immersion : Misadventure.

Last updated: 14-Dec-2023

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