Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Ali Mohammad SOLTANI

Inquest into the Death of Ali Mohammad SOLTANI

Delivered on :23 March 2018

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Deputy State Coroner Vicker

Recommendations :Yes

Recommendation No. 1

Regulations be implemented which make it a requirement rock fishermen wear life jackets when fishing from rocks subject to wave action and spray on the WA coast;

  1. Those life jackets to comply with Australian Standards 4758.1:2015 and self-inflate on impact with water, have a minimum level of 150N, are made of retro reflective material, are abrasion resistant and incorporate a light and whistle; and
    1. Rock fishermen carry a personal emergency positioning indicator rescue beacon (EPIRB)

Recommendation No. 2

Approaches be made to Telstra to install a mobile phone tower on Eclipse Island, after suitable survey, to assist communication in alerting responders to, and coordinating, emergencies.

Recommendation No. 3

A marine VHF repeater be installed and maintained on Eclipse Island by DFES established on channel 80 with separate infrastructure from the police repeater.

Recommendation No. 4

There be collaboration in developing reliable communication plans utilising internationally approved frequencies/channel allocations for marine search and rescue operations in line with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Standards.

Recommendation No. 5

The regulation and management of drones for emergency search and rescue operations be clarified and training and certification of competent pilots be promoted within search and rescue groups.

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : On 26 April 2016 Ali Mohammad Soltani was fishing from rocks at the north east end of Salmon Holes Beach while his brother in law and nephew fished from the beach. The deceased had a rope attached to an anchor bolt on the rocks but it was not clear how it was attached to him.  He was not wearing a life jacket.  The deceased was 30 years old at the time of his death.

There were no eye witness account as to how the deceased fell, but at some point the deceased fell from the rocks into the water and his anchor rope broke. Two male visitors to the beach were told the deceased had been swept off the rocks into the sea.  The two visitors had a pair of binoculars and attempted to keep track of the deceased in the water while calling emergency services.  Initially the deceased could be seen moving on the surface of the water below the rocks.  He then drifted out to deeper water and disappeared in the waves.  He was not seen on the water again.

The deceased’s body was recovered by police divers the following day floating on the sea floor south of where he had last been seen.

Expert evidence and that of those experienced in search and rescue operations emphasised the use of relevant and appropriately maintained life jackets would have increased the survivability and recovery of all deceased.

The focus of the inquest was on safety issues centred largely around the wearing of life jackets when rock fishing and the potential for personal Emergency Position Indicator Rescue Beacons (IPIRBs) to assist with recovering both survivors and deceased, the tensions surrounding the provision of anchor rock points by the Department of Biodiversity, Conversations and Attractions, the use of drones in search and rescue and in the specific location of the Salmon Holes, radio and/or digital communication.

The Deputy State Coroner convened an inquest hearing into the circumstances surrounding the deaths in 2015 of Mr Li and Mr Zhang and took parts of the evidence relevant to both inquests which are reproduced into the finding of Mr Soltani, to give consistency with the consideration of issues of public safety where rock fishermen experience difficulties while rock fishing.

The Deputy State Coroner made several recommendations in relation to the wearing of life jackets, carrying EPIRB’s, improving telecommunication, marine VHF repeaters and the use of drones for emergency search and rescue operations.

Catch Words : Rock Fishing : Signs and Education for rock fishing : Life Jackets : Telecommunication : Drones : Drowning : Accident.

Last updated: 30-Apr-2019

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