Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Toshiyuki HATAKEYAMA

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Toshiyuki HATAKEYAMA

Delivered on : 6 May 2020

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Vicker

Recommendations :N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : Late on 6 August 1979 Mr Hatakeyama was seen to fall overboard from the pearling lugger Kim into the sea about 7.4 nautical miles west of Cape Latouche Treville. Despite an immediate search by those on board the lugger Mr Hatakeyama was never seen again or any trace of him located.

Mr Hatakeyama was a young Japanese man who was a recent recruit to Peals Pty Limited and it was his first season diving with the company. Mr Hatakeyama was on a wooden pearling vessel which sailed around the north west coast after being built in 1908. It was this vessel which Mr Hatakeyama was on and which was heading to Broome due to the spring tides arising.

There were three crew members awake at approximately 11.10 pm on 6 August 1979 when the sea was described as really rough with a very strong south easterly wind blowing and very big waves and the current at the time was very strong due to the spring tides. Mr Hatakeyama was seen to fall from the side of the boat in front of the wheelhouse area as it rolled with a wave. At the time Mr Hatakeyama was wearing a tracksuit with black bottoms and a green top. He was seen to go over head first as his feet went out from under him on the wet deck, he was not heard to yell out and he just disappeared beneath the water.

A crew member called out to slow the boat and the engines were immediately cut to prevent movement and crew started to call out for Mr Hatakeyama. They heard nothing and could not see him, although the lighting was not the best from the lugger. Other crew members were woken and told Mr Hatakeyama had fallen overboard. The lugger searched the area for about an hour and approximately an hour later another lugger arrived to assist in the search and both luggers stopped and remained in position in the original place Mr Hatakeyama had disappeared. By sunrise there were another five vessels involved in searching for Mr Hatakeyama and they all searched for the rest of the day. At nightfall the search was terminated by the pearling vessels and they returned to Broome late on the evening of 8 August 1979.

The Coroner was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt Mr Hatakeyama is deceased and that he died as a result of drowning within moments of entering the water on 6 August 1979 off the coast of Cape Latouche Treville. The Coroner found Mr Hatakeyama’s death occurred by way of Misadventure.

Catch Words : Long Term Missing Person : Pearl Diver : Overboard : Drowning : Misadventure

Last updated: 18-Jun-2020

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