Highlands & Islands

Aquila dredger survivor tells of crew's final moments

Tim Rowley. Pic: Northpix
Image caption Tim Rowley spent almost 90 minutes in the water before he was rescued

The sole survivor of a Cumbrian scallop dredger which capsized off Scotland's west coast has broken down while giving evidence at a fatal accident inquiry.

Tim Rowley, 33, wept as he told of his crew-mates' final moments after the Aquila snagged a line on the seabed and was turned over within four seconds.

Skipper Tony Hayton, 45, died along with Peter Hilton and Thomas Sanderson, both aged 52, on 20 July 2009.

All four were from Maryport in Cumbria.

The accident happen off Ardnamurchan Point in the west Highlands.

Mr Rowley told the inquiry at Fort William Sheriff Court how the crew tried to save themselves.

He said: "The snag came over hard fast. All of a sudden water was coming gushing in the door. Four seconds, and the boat was upside down."

Mr Rowley said he was in the galley and when the boat capsized had to swim underwater to get through a door to the surface.

After he got free, Mr Rowley said he saw Mr Hayton, who had also managed to get himself out of the Aquila.

However, Mr Hayton was some way off.

Mr Rowley next saw Mr Sanderson face down in the sea.

He swam to him found that he was dead.

Grabbing some planks floating in the water, Mr Rowley then went to the aid of Mr Hilton.

The survivor said: "He was groaning and moaning, complaining about his back.

"I managed to keep his head above water. I had his back towards my chest and the board between us.

"I told him I wasn't going to let him die. But after a while, about 20 minutes, he passed away and died in my arms. I had to let him away to save myself."

After almost 90 minutes in the water, Mr Rowley was rescued by a passing yacht.

The inquiry Sheriff Paul Crozier continues.

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