December 11, 2023

Charges laid over Enchanter fishing tragedy which claimed five lives

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Charges have been laid against an individual and a company linked to the sinking of the fishing charter boat Enchanter a year ago.

Five men died in the tragedy off North Cape, during a wild storm on 20 March.

They were Geoffrey James Allen, 72, Michael Patrick Lovett, 72, Richard Eldon Bright, 63, and Mark Keith Walker, 41, all from Cambridge, and Mark Kenneth Sanders, 43, from Te Awamutu.

Another five people onboard survived.

In a statement, Maritime NZ director Kirstie Hewlett told RNZ both the company and the individual faced one charge each of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The company also faced a charge of breaching the Maritime Transport Act.

“Maritime NZ’s investigation included interviews with a range of people, understanding the weather and sea state on the days of the journey, reviewing the design and construction of the vessel, its maintenance, the culture and processes of the organisation and the navigation of the journey.”

The survivors and the relatives of those who died have been informed of the prosecution.

The parties will make their first appearance in the Kaitāia District Court next month.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission told RNZ today its investigation was in its final stages.

A weather warning was issued two days after the Enchanter left on a five-day trip to the Three Kings Islands last year.

A rogue wave is understood to have hit the boat, breaking the bridge.

The alarm was first raised when an emergency locator beacon was set off at about 8pm – the survivors were in the water for about four hours before rescue.

The rescue and recovery included rescue helicopters, the New Zealand Defence Force, police, Coastguard, LandSAR and a commercial fishing fleet.


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