Coroner orders fresh probe after Gerome Reyes was crushed to death on board ship
An inquest into the death of a seaman has been dramatically halted after new evidence surrounding the tragedy was uncovered.
Gerome Reyes was crushed to death by a lift on a cargo ship called Moonray which had left Southampton docks, a coroner’s court heard.
The inquest heard how there were a catalogue of alleged safety failings onboard the Moonray vessel.
A police investigation was launched at the time of the sailor’s death but no action was taken. Now the inquest into his death has been dramatically halted after new evidence emerged surrounding the circumstances of the 27-year-old’s death.
Senior Hampshire coroner Grahame Short stopped the hearing in Winchester and referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate whether there should be a corporate manslaughter case to answer.
Exactly how the seaman ended up crushed between the top of a goods life and a ceiling inside the ship was the subject of the probe.
His body was found by crewmates following the incident on May 22 when Crew member Sulano Galache said: “My attention was drawn to the blood on the floor and I looked in the elevator and saw Gerome’s head and arms wedged between the elevator door.” staff desperately tried to lower the elevator and an electrician stopped the electrics from working.
According to crewmate Sulano Galache he was only shown how the elevator can go up and down by another crew member. Mr Reyes was at the galley level when the lift came upwards from the provisions level crushing him.
Fellow crew member Alvin Baraloso said he knew that Mr Reyes had been using the lift to carry soft drinks to a lunch.
Mr Baraloso said: “I saw Gerome on the top of the elevator and I could see his head and arms and called out to other crew members, it was clear he had been crushed, all the crew came to help I remember an electrician turned off the electrics, everyone was shocked.”
He described Mr Reyes, who was from the Philippines, as hard working and energetic. The ship is registered to the Marshall Islands, but is owned by Primebulk Ship Management Ltd based in Greece.
At the time of the incident, which happened in the North Sea 25 miles from coast of Kent, the ship, which has a total crew of 24, was travelling from Southampton to Lithuania. The ship’s skipper then ordered the crew to return to the Solent where it moored off the Isle of Wight while police boarded to carry out an investigation.
Detective Constable Susan Hampton said there were no suspicious circumstances behind the death but an investigation was also carried out by independent surveyor which concluded that there was no system in place called a ‘limiter switch’ to prevent the lift being used, which could have prevented the accident. It added that it was likely Mr Reyes accidentally pressed a button that caused the lift to hit him.
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Source: Daily Echo