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Toothache 'led to scallop dredger tragedy'
6:00pm Thursday 19th June 2014 in News
DOUBLE TRAEGDY: The Eschol, in Whitby harbour, following the deaths of fishermen Edward Ide and Mark Arries
A CORONER has called for carbon monoxide detectors to be made compulsory on fishing boats after two men died when one left a gas cooker on overnight in the hope the warmth would ease his toothache.
Father-of-two Mark Arries lit the grill on the dilapidated cooker in the wheelhouse of the Eshcol during a 36-hour fishing voyage as he wanted to make the pain in his mouth more bearable, a jury was told.
After unloading their catch of 26 bags of scallops at 2am on January 15 in Whitby harbour, the 26-year-old went to sleep with crewmate Edward Ide, 21, leaving the cooker on as temperatures dropped to near freezing.
?Mr Arries, from Blyth, and Mr Ide, 21, from Amble, in Northumberland, died in their sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning, the hearing at Scarborough Town Hall was told today (Thursday).
Mr Arries, who complained to a colleague he couldn't get warm, had repeatedly used the cooker for heating, which tests later revealed let out extraordinarily high levels of carbon monoxide?.
?Crewmate Thomas Berry, of Scarborough, who had left the boat to visit his girlfriend hours before the tragedy, said: "Mark only lit the top burner on the cooker while at sea because he had toothache.
"He'd had toothache for days and was taking some tablets for it."
The hearing was told there were warning signs that something was wrong in the boat while they were at sea, but no one had realised that it had been due to the cooker.
He told the hearing: "I felt sick. I was spewing up everything I drank on the floor.
"Mark said to me 'You're seasick.' I said 'I've never been seasick in my life'."
The tragedy was discovered at 9am when the owner’s son ?Jake Davies, then 15, working on an adjacent boat, woke and could not see any signs of life on the Eshcol.
He and a colleague tried banging on the locked wheelhouse and ringing Mr Arries on his mobile phone before forcing the wheelhouse door open.
Mr Davies said: "It was quite warm. There was vaporous smoke everywhere from the cooker."
They went downstairs to the bunk area in the bow. Mr Arries was dead in the bottom bunk and Mr Idle's body was in the bed above.
Owner Tim Bowman Davies, of Milford Haven, Wales, said he had intended to replace the four-year-old cooker, which had been installed incorrectly and had never been properly serviced, in a refit this summer.
He had since fitted carbon monoxide detectors, but they were not required by regulations, and he had never heard of a carbon monoxide ?tragedy at sea in 30 years in the industry.
The inquest was told the vessel had been inspected two or three times by the coastguard agency.
A jury concluded the deaths due to misadventure.
Coroner Michael Oakley said he would write to coastguards, calling for rules about on sleeping on boats to be tightened, for carbon monoxide detectors to be made compulsory for fishing vessels and for checks on cookers to be part of safety inspections.
It is estimated 50 people in the UK are killed by carbon monoxide – known as the ‘silent killer’ each year, and a further 4,000 people are treated for poisoning by the gas in hospital.
The number of people poisoned by carbon monoxide is likely to be much higher as it is difficult to diagnose due to symptoms being similar to common illnesses like flu and food poisoning.
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