Peter Gray: Fatal accident inquiry hears how fisherman died

Peter Gray: Fatal accident inquiry hears how fisherman died

Peter Gray was accidentally pulled overboard from his creel boat Saint Peter near Torness Point on May 2, 2021.

Lifeboat crews from Dunbar and St Abbs, a rescue helicopter from Prestwick and local fishing vessels joined forces for the search.

The 64-year-old dad-of-two and grandfather-of-two was found in the sea by the rescue helicopter and was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where he was later pronounced dead.

Now, a fatal accident inquiry (FAI), has ruled the cause of death as “complications of ischaemic and hypertensive heart disease and immersion in water”.

The FAI found that Mr Gray was attending to a tangle of creels but he became caught in a bight of rope as the creels released into the sea.

East Lothian Courier: Fisherman Peter Gray tragically died on Sunday evening

According to the 20-page document, the incident took place about 1.2 nautical miles north-east of Torness Point on May 2, 2021, between 8.30am and 10.32am.

It reads: “He went to attend to tangled creels.

“As they became free and were released through the shooting gate, he became caught on a bight of back rope that tightened around his ankle.

“He was unable to resist the pull from the weight of creels as they fell into the sea and he was dragged overboard through the shooting gate.

“After he was eventually found in the water, he was taken by helicopter to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where he was pronounced deceased at 6.35pm on May 2, 2021.”

Mr Gray had worked as a fisherman for 40 years and had served in the merchant navy for about five years in his early career.

He lived in Cove, south-east of Dunbar, and served as a volunteer Coastguard.

Mr Gray was operating the vessel alone and catching a mixture of crab and lobster using creels.

The report said: “Once the skipper was in the water, his only option to self-rescue was to swim back to Saint Peter against the wind and current and then attempt to reboard by pulling himself through the shooting gate using the float line.

“This would have been very difficult while wearing saturated clothing that included boots and gloves, and while suffering from the effects of cold water shock.”

Following Mr Gray’s death, tributes were paid by many in the community, including the Rev Dr Suzie Fletcher.

The minister of Dunglass said: “Peter Gray was one of the fifth generation of his family to fish from Cove, and had been out to sea doing the job he loved day in and day out for decades.

“His loss has left his family, the local community, many circles of fishermen and countless friends in shock.

“He was a kind man who was always willing to help out with anything, and loved nothing more than taking his dog for a walk in the rain or going to sunnier places for his holidays.

“His wife and children are very grateful to all the fishermen who joined the RNLI and Coastguard in the search.

“The Gray family have been part of the fabric of the Cove and Cockburnspath community for generations, but the ripples of this tragic news will be felt much more widely.”

Councillor Norman Hampshire previously lived at Cove and described the incident as “a tragedy”.

He said: “The fishing community is a very tight-knit community and this will have an impact on all fishermen.

“They all know the job they do is a dangerous job and they are at risk every time they go out to sea. It is an absolute tragedy this has happened.”

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East Lothian Courier
Cameron Ritchie

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