MAIB delivers report on Cardiff CO death

The MAIB report is in concerning a CO death in Cardiff at the end of last year

The MAIB has published its report detailing its investigation into the CO death of a boat owner in Wales.

On the November 12 2016 Ray Milton, a 72-year-old retired lorry driver, died aboard his 31-year-old Draco 2400ST at Cardiff Yacht Club after being overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mr. Milton had been attempting to clear a large quantity of water found in the bilges and had been running the engine in gear on his mooring in order to lift the bow and drain more water aft to the pump.

Mr.Milton had been running the engine in gear to lift the bow and clear bilge water

The alarm was raised after a friend failed to reach him on his mobile phone. A nearby club member who had been asked to investigate found him face down on the cockpit floor.

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An off duty firefighter attempted to resuscitate Mr. Milton after shutting down the engine, assisted by a further club member. The emergency services arrived 15 minutes later, by which time both men were also suffering the effects of CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning.

All three were taken to hospital where Mr. Milton was declared deceased. The off duty firefighter had a carboxyhemoglobin level of 20% when first assessed, while the other man had a reading of 9.5%; both indicating CO poisoning. Article continues below…

In a reconstruction of the incident by the MAIB, the boat’s engine was started with the canopy erected but with the aft starboard zip open, as the boat was found.

Atmosphere monitors and a domestic CO detector positioned inside the canopy recorded 250ppm after forty minutes, increasing to 550ppm within five minutes of the engine being switched off, believed to be due to the intake no longer drawing air from the cockpit.

HSE workplace exposure limits for carbon monoxide are set at 200ppm for short term exposure (maximum 15 minutes) and just 30ppm for longer term exposure.

The MAIB claims that faulty exhaust bellows were at fault for the deadly CO leak

Further investigation revealed that rubber exhaust bellows inside the boat may have been modified which, coupled with a lack of maintenance, had caused them to split over time without being spotted, leaking exhaust fumes.

The report echoes an earlier incident on the Norfolk Broads where two people died after running the engine of their boat to charge the batteries.

Carbon Monoxide is commonly known as as the silent killer because it is colourless, odourless, tasteless and non- irritating. All boat owners are strongly urged to install CO alarms which typically cost less than £20.


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