Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Francis Joseph NEWBY

Inquest into the Death of Francis Joseph NEWBY

Delivered on :5 September 2019

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Vicker

Recommendations :N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : The deceased was last seen on 1 April 1978 when he was swept overboard from the fishing vessel the “Lucca” and was seen clinging to an icebox with one other person, when a wave swept the deceased away from the icebox.

On 29 March 1978 the deceased and a friend left Carnarvon to go fishing on the Lucca fishing vessel. On Friday 31 March 1978 the Lucca anchored a quarter mile off Turtle Bay on the northern tip of Dirk Hartog Island, approximately half mile east of Hartog Landing. The two men intended to stay there for the night, however, it was noted the sea was building, although the swell was only moderate, so they decided it would be safer to ride out the conditions on board. Both men slept on the deck of the Lucca that night.

At about 1.00 am on 1 April 1978 a wave broke over the boat causing it to completely roll over and capsize. Both men were washed overboard and forced towards the sea bed, receiving bruises and grazes from debris in the process. Both men have surfaced and observed the Lucca’s icebox floating nearby. They both swam to the icebox and took hold of the ropes on the side of the icebox. The deceased was coughing up blood and was having trouble breathing and it appeared he was getting weaker.

While the men were clinging to the icebox it was noticed a 12 foot wave was approaching them and after the wave broke over the icebox the deceased had disappeared beneath the water. The deceased did not reappear. The deceased’s friend remained clinging to the icebox and was eventually swept inshore to Turtle Bay beach.

A fishing boat in the area located the deceased’s friend and rescued him from the beach. They reported the deceased missing and a search was undertaken by Carnarvon Police. At the conclusion of the sea and land search the deceased was never seen again and his remains were never located.

The Coroner was satisfied the deceased died when he was swept under the water by a wave swamping the icebox to which he had been clinging to and drowned.

Catch Words : Missing Person : Immersion : Misadventure


Last updated: 31-Oct-2019

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