Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Deaths of Jiaolong ZHANG and Chunjun LI

Inquest into the Deaths of Jiaolong ZHANG and Chunjun LI

Delivered on :16 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 18 April 2015 Chunjun Li and Jiaolong Zhang were at the Salmon Holes in Torndirrup National Park to fish for salmon. Mr Li was 42 years old and Mr Zhang was 38 years old at the time of their deaths.

The ocean conditions at the time the two men were fishing were described as particularly rough and massive with a reference to the swell. Neither man was wearing a life jacket, but they tied themselves to a rock with rope.

Shortly after they commenced fishing a series of waves of increasing strength swept against the rocks with one breaking behind the two fishermen. They were both swept into the sea and under the water.

Mr Li surfaced and was washed towards the beach. He was recovered from the water and resuscitation was commenced by bystanders.  He did not revive.

It is not clear whether Mr Zhang resurfaced, but it was initially believed his body was swept further out to sea due to clothing seen in the water. Mr Zhang’s body was never recovered despite an extensive land, sea and air search in improving conditions over 4 days.

The focus of the inquest was whether the death of Mr Zhang had been established beyond all reasonable doubt, the circumstances of both deaths and the issue of public safety where rock fishermen experience difficulties while rock fishing and they, rescuers and first responders are exposed to a range of dangers in any attempted rescue.

The Deputy State Coroner found the death of Mr Zhang had been established beyond all reasonable doubt and the deaths of Mr Li and Mr Zhang occurred on 18 April 2015 in the sea off Salmon Holes, Salmon Holes Road, Torndirrup National Park, Torndirrup, Albany. Mr Li’s death was consistent with drowning and Mr Zhang’s death was likely due to drowning. The Deputy State Coroner found both deaths occurred by way of accident.

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 : Missing Person : Accident.


Last updated: 30-Apr-2019

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