Last week, Ken Henderson and his best friend, Ed Coen went offshore fishing in Henderson’s offshore boat, a 30′ Scarab which is a sleek, fast offshore fishing boat. For some unknown reason, the boat started filling up with water;Henderson had four bilge pumps,but they could not keep up with the water coming into the boat, so the boat started sinking. The boat was unhooked from the rig that it was tied to and Henderson tried to crank the engines supposedly to run the water out of the hull. Henderson tried to call the Coast Guard,but his radio did not work properly. Because of all of these problems, Mr. Ed Coen lost his life at sea.
Because things happen fast offshore,one must equip his boat with the proper safety equipment. One of the most important pieces of equipment is an EPIRB (emergency poistion-indicating radio beacon);it goes off automatically when there is an emergency. It automatically sends a signal to the Coast Guard that there is an emergency and tells the authorities exactly where the beacon is so that a rescue can be made. I have been fishing in the gulf of mexico for over 35 years and have my coast guard license. I have personally seen this device work while fishing off the Louisiana coast. There were about 30 boats fishing and shrimping in this large lake when all of a sudden a Coast Guard helicopter started making large circles in our area and then closed in on one shrimp boat. I could hear the pilot over the intercom ask if everything was all right because they received an EPIRB signal. The captain of the shrimp boat told the pilot that his bracket that held his EPIRB broke and that is what caused the signal to start by accident. So, if this boat were equipped with a proper EPIRB, Ed would probably still be here with us today.
Secondly, on offshore boats, the bilge pumps should come on automatically when water gets into the boat for any reason. When the bilge pump comes on, it is very obvious because you can see the water coming out of the side of the boat. Apparently, the automatic part of the bilge pumps did not work properly or else the boat would not have filled up with so much water. If they saw that the bilge pumps were running, then they could have done something sooner to solve the problem or save their lives, but, because the bilge pumps had to be turned on manually, the boat had too much water in it at that time and it was too late to pump the water out causing the boat to sink.
Thirdly, offshore boats should have a properly working VHF radio for emergencies just like this one so that the Coast Guard can come rescue them in time. The boat had a radio,but apparently it did not work properly because no one responded from the Coast Guard or anyone else. A lot of times, other boaters in the area will come assist if they know that they are needed. This is an unwritten law that we all just help other boaters out who are in trouble or who need assistance.
Fourthly, a wrong decision was made to unhook the sinking boat from the rig that they were tied to. This is especially true if there was a strong current which prevented them from simply swimming back to this rig.
Finally, the boat should have been properly inspected and maintained to make sure that it doesn’t sink in the middle of the gulf of mexico. Something bad had to happen to the hull in order for a hole to be so big that 4 bilge pumps couldn’t keep up with the incoming water.
The family of Mr. Coen could make a claim against the owner of the boat’s insurance company for causing his death which should be covered under the policy. Since it was his best friend, i’m sure that the owner of the boat would not object to his family making a claim. That is why you buy insurance in the first place.
All I handle are injury and death cases. I’ve been doing this for over 37 years. I represent clients on a contingency fee basis which means that no money is paid unless or until i recover money for you. If you want to discuss your case, call Paul Snow at 601-969-1977 or 1-800-640-4478 or contact us online.
Our prayers go out to the Coen family.