Inquest told trawler crewman died trying to save his colleague

The family of a trawlerman who lost his life in a toxic fume hold has paid a moving tribute to another member of the crew who tried to save him but also lost his life.

An inquest in Donegal town heard how James Joyce from Inis Mor in the Aran Islands was trapped by fumes at the bottom of a hold on the Oilean an Oir at Killybegs and died the same day.

His fellow crewman, Filipinno Joel Alama, who went to his rescue was also overcome by fumes and died four days later.

Solicitor Paul Horan told Coroner Denis McCauley and his jury that it was hard to convey the devastation of 27-year-old James's family and friends.

He said: “The family all feel that this occasion cannot be allowed pass without formally recording their eternal gratitude to Joel Alama, James's fellow crewman who heroically made the ultimate sacrifice in attempting to rescue James.

The inquest heard from James's brother Peter, who was also a crewman.

He was on the trawler preparing it to return home when, after Joel shouted, he phoned the emergency services and then saw the two men collapsed in the hold at the bottom of steps.

They were lifted out by firemen using breathing apparatus.

Marine Casualty Investigations Inspector Tom Power said his inquiries showed there was gas in some dormant water in a port side tank. James Joyce wouldn't have known it was there when he started to pump out the refrigeration system on August 24, 2015. He would have been “overcome” by toxic gas.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death due to the intoxication of hydrogen sulphide on James Joyce, of Inis Mor, who died on the day of the tragedy, and Joel Alama of the Phillipines but who lived in Inis Mor, who died four days later.

They recommended the government introduce mandatory monitoring of hydrogen sulphide in trawlers with refrigerated sea water systems