Investigation shows carbon monoxide killed boater

Published: Thursday, 10 August 2017

THE Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has today published its report following an investigation into the fatal accident which occurred on board the motor cruiser Vasquez.

It found that Ray Milton fell unconscious on his motor cruiser Vasquez on 12th November 2016 after being overcome by carbon monoxide that had been emitted from his boat’s inboard petrol engine.

Not possible to save his life

Although rescuers came to his aid and conducted cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, it was not possible to save his life, with two of the rescuers having to be treated for the effects of CO poisoning following the accident.

The CO was found to have originated from the rubber bellows of the wet-exhaust system of the engine, which was not only leaking exhaust fumes but also water.

The boat’s engine had not been regularly serviced, and evidence revealed that the exhaust system of the engine had been modified during the boat’s life.

No CO alarm

Tragically, Vasquez’s 72-year-old owner Ray Milton died from CO poisoning because, without a CO detector/alarm being fitted to his boat, he was unaware that CO from his boat’s engine exhaust was entering the cockpit and cabin area.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch states that the message however is quite clear, understand the dangers of carbon monoxide and fit an alarm that complies with BS EN50291-2:2010. If the alarm sounds, get out of the boat and into the fresh air immediately—get wise, get alarmed, and get out!

There is a common misconception that CO detectors/alarms used in the marine environment are prone to false alarms. This is rarely the case. If the alarm sounds it will be because CO is present.