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Coroner Rules Boat Tragedy Accidental

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net 

A CORONER ruled yesterday that the death of a 73-year-old man in a boating collision was an “accidental death” — however the victim’s daughter has said the family will pursue the matter in a civil case. 

The inquest into the death of Timothy Ferguson was before Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez who made the ruling without a jury. 

On April 3, 2015, Ferguson and two other passengers were aboard a 15-foot Boston Whaler when a 90-foot yacht, Sir John II, rammed into their boat. The yacht is said to be owned by Sandals Resorts founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart and was captained by Neville Sylvester Christie. 

During previous proceedings, Mr Christie told the court that he saw nothing in his path before the collision, which caused elderly Ferguson to suffer severe propeller wounds that ultimately led to his death. 

Coroner Weech-Gomez said yesterday “what is clear from the evidence” is that Sir John II collided with the Boston Whaler captained by Ferguson.

She added both Benjamin Ferguson and Floyd Ferguson – the two other people on the boat – saw the vessel and tried to get its attention. When they couldn’t, all three men jumped overboard. After they jumped, the Boston Whaler was overrun. 

The coroner also said it is clear Mr Christie didn’t see the boat or its occupants until he heard a “commotion”.

Coroner Weech-Gomez noted there was a dispute regarding the weather conditions on the day of the incident, with parties debating whether it the sea was rough or calm enough to have “put a plate on the water”. 

The coroner said she accepts that while it may have been a sunny day, it was not a calm day. She added while it may not have been rough, it certainly was not calm enough to “put a plate on the water,” based on the photographic evidence.  

She also said given the comparable size of Sir John II and the Boston Whaler and given the conditions, it was “highly probable…the Sir John II did not see the Boston Whaler.” 

“In the circumstances, the verdict is one of accidental death,” Coroner Weech-Gomez said. She went on to express her condolences to the family of the deceased. 

Afterwards, Elaine Lightfoot, daughter of the deceased, told The Tribune: “I was about to appeal the case but I have no reason to appeal now, it’s just that now we have to go and do what we have to do in the civil case.

“Most certainly there will be a civil matter,” Ms Lightfoot continued.

“Oh, you can bet your bottom dollar, it will be a civil matter.”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 10 months ago

A yacht the size of Sir John II warrants more than a couple of eyes at the bridge/helm monitoring at all times the immediate surroundings of the vessel when it is moving under power or by momentum alone. To not see even a small Boston Whaler on a clear sunny day with negligible wind conditions and no white caps portended a reasonable presumption of negligence in and of itself, which should have been subject to proper rebuttal. Sadly it seems the fix was in on the side of great wealth from the very start in this matter. Hopefully the coroner's decision was not assuaged in any way by a settlement with the family. That certainly would not be right. A most gruesome death without any consequence whatsoever. Yep, it sure does seem we live in a society today that does not value life or justice.

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licks2 1 year, 10 months ago

This can cause the judge to come get ya dumb tail. . ."the fix was in". . .ya mouth walking ya backside right into a cell with this contempt of court. . .I am sure they will come after you if they read this. . .you'r saying they "fix" the judge to get off. . .maybe now you especially will stop talking dumb nonsense. . .YOU GERN TA JAIL FOR WRITING STUFF LIKE THAT. . .

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bogart 1 year, 10 months ago

Is da Coronor a qualified certified a Boat Captain licensed...????....specialists...experts...???

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