Two Fishermen Die After Boat Strikes Reef

January 24, 2012

[Updated with photos/videos] The Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre confirmed that two bodies were recovered from the water off St. David’s Battery early this morning [Jan.24].

The official statement said that at approximately midnight the Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre received a call from a 27-foot fishing vessel with two persons onboard, who said the boat had “struck a reef off St. David’s Head and was taking on water.”

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The statement said, “Bermuda Radio instructed the crew to put on lifejackets while tasking the pilot boat St. David and Marine Police boat ‘Heron II’ to assist.

“Bermuda Radio commenced ‘Mayday Relay’ broadcasts to vessels in the area with local fishing vessel ’34 fathoms’ and a local skiff from Smith’s Island responding to the call for assistance.

“A short while later two bodies were recovered from the water off St. David’s Battery and taken ashore by the pilot boat St. David,” concluded the Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre statement.

The pilot boat arrived at the St David’s dock located by Black Horse Tavern at approximately 1.45am this morning, where police, fire and ambulance personnel were waiting.

The ambulance left a short time later with a police escort.

Police officers were seen getting off the pilot boat, with some officers soaking wet. The Marine Police boat arrived at the dock shortly after the pilot boat, along with the two private vessels that had assisted in the search.

Unofficial reports indicate that the two persons appear to have been out fishing, with a cooler containing fish said to have been recovered during the search of the water area.

It is unofficially understood that one body was located soon after the rescue boats’ arrival, and the search team initially held out hope of finding the second person alive. They continued to search, discovering the second body a short while later.

Speaking with an area resident, he noted with sadness that this incident occurred within a short distance of the Figurehead Memorial at Great Head Park in St David’s. The sculpture is inscribed with almost 80 names, and is dedicated to Bermudians over the centuries who were lost at sea.

Update 9.00am: Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre identified the boat as “Tern”.

Update 9.30am: A Marine Police boat with three officers aboard continues to search the waters off St David’s in the area where the boat sank. The area was marked with buoys last night.

Update 11.55am: The police boat has left the scene, and we understand a Crisson Construction barge will be arriving this afternoon.

Update 1.18pm: Two boats have returned to the area, with one carrying what appears to be a police diver onboard.

Update 1.25pm: The diver went into the water, and a second diver aboard one of the boats appears to be preparing to enter the water.

Update 1.42pm: The barge is arriving on scene

Update 2.16pm: The boat has been pulled from the water

Update 2.38pm: Some of the family members of the two men – whose identities have not been officially released yet – gathered at the St David’s scene to watch the proceedings. Speaking with Bernews, they expressed their shock over this tragic incident and said they felt compelled to come and be there today. The two men, who were brothers, were said to be experienced fishermen.

Update 2.50pm: The boat has been brought to shore:

And hoisted onto a vehicle to be towed away:

Update 5.23pm: The full 6-minute video of the boat being hoisted out of the water and brought ashore is below:

Update 6:25pm: The Bermuda Police Service have named the victims as 59 year old Clifton Williams of Smith’s parish and 58 year old Mikal Williams of St. George’s parish.

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Category: Accidents and fires, All, News

Comments (61)

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  1. Midnite says:

    What a sad event.

  2. Paget boy says:

    Sorry to hear this tragic news. Such a peaceful weather night on the water that has turned into such horror for these and their families. thanks to all the brave people who tried to rescue them in the dark of the night…peace to all…

  3. OMG!!! says:

    This is very said may God be with there family’s at this time

  4. D. Evans says:

    Condolences to the family, may they RIP

  5. Anthony Dean says:

    Namaste! Extended condolences & empathy to/for the grieving loved ones!…xo

  6. Redman says:

    This is just so sad, I have Just been told by someone who attended who they are and I’m stunned. These guys where very experienced boaters especially around St David’s and the East End.

    My condolences to the family, Rest Easy Guys.

  7. Redman says:

    This is so sad, I just spoke to one of the persons that responded and am stunned as I know who they are. These guys where experienced boaters especially around St David’s and the East End.

    My Sincere Condolences to all of their families. Rest Easy Guys.

    Thank you to all who where involved in the search and rescue as well, glad that you all came back safe.

  8. strong says:

    My heart is heavy hearing this news!! Condolences to the families.

  9. This is very very sad news to here may they both rest in peace the families have my deepest condolances.

  10. SNS says:

    What a tregedy!! my thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of these 2 men. may they rest in peace.

  11. rightious vigilant says:

    May G’d have mercy over their families…im hurting rigth now because I have known one of them since i was a kid :(

  12. Theresa Simpson says:

    Our sincer condolences to the families of both….May God Bless you all

  13. Katrina M Smith says:

    this is so sad…:( my Condolences go out to the families

  14. Aruna says:

    My dacious! & I’m shocked because how exactly did they drown. Two Bermudians, fisher(wo)men, no less. Was there current or something? I’m sure they could swim. Good grief this is sad.

    • boondocks says:

      ARUNA at this time UR comment shows no intelligence. How did they drown? Regardless how good they can swim,, its was midnite,, pitch black off stdavids. U cannot see the waves before they swamp you. Off 4t 5avids regardless how calm u may think, is deep ocean water, the closet u’ll get around here. Accidents happen. professionals die everyday doin wat the love or train 2 do. Think b4 u actually write a comment. Condolences 2 all peopke involved)family, rescuers, bermuda) cause this affects us all in sum way! Stand 2gether my bermuda family

      • Can't Take It Anymore says:

        Uneccessary.

      • Casi says:

        Why do you have this anger? The person had a genuine question. Not everybody has the answers you have, be glad you are so smart. We don’t seem to be, but at least we try to write in our best English without silly abbreviations.

      • tisk tisk says:

        Ridiculous response to very good questions. Hopefully we can uncover the unfortunate mistakes made by these two so others don’t make them in the future.

  15. charles spanswick says:

    GOD BLESS THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!!!!

  16. Concerned Granny says:

    My sincere condolences to the families of these two men. Having known them all of their lives, makes this even sadder. My prayers are with their families.

  17. Classy Lady says:

    My prayers and condolences go out to the family.

  18. Cedar Beams (Original) says:

    Knowing several east end fishermen, I’m quite anxious to know who they are. RIP.

  19. Evie says:

    Sad news. May God give their loved ones the strength to endure during this difficult time.

  20. man! says:

    l wish l knew the names of these guys…the suspense in driving me crazy…l know alot of guys that fish off St. Davids, who ever they are, its a sad day in BDA.

  21. Gillian says:

    Thoughts and prayers are with their families

  22. Weldon Wade says:

    My prayers, condolences and thoughts go out to their families. :(

  23. CAT says:

    Such a sad situation!!! May they Rest in Peace!

  24. Margaret says:

    While I appreciate the hard work the responders do, shame on whomever revealed the names of the deceased. That is so disrespectful of the feelings of families and close friends of the deceased. How would you feel if it were your loved one, and you received news of their passing via the grapevine? My sincere sympathy to those who are grieving their loss.

    • CM says:

      First of all… very sad! My thoughts to the family!! Such a loss!
      Secondly… seriously? Someone released the names before the press again?
      They should be tracked and punished!! When will people start having respect!!

      • Robbie69 says:

        Yes, it is unfortunate when the names of deceased persons are passed on before the family gets word but I’m tired of hearing people calling for those people who sare the information to be punished. GET REAL! First of all, how would one know whether the family has been informed or not? If someone calls another with the name of one who has passed, naturally they will tell others-it’s human nature to spread news onto others. It’s doesn’t mean there’s malice or bad intentions behind it! There’s no law against sharing bad news!

        The only ones who should be treated harshly in these scenarios is the media because they have the ability to inform mass amounts of people at the same time. It would be simply horrible for someone to be watching t.v. and hear their relative had died that way. However, when news spreads ‘through the grapevine’ that’s just life. Again, when passing on bad news how would the person know if the family knows or not? Most would assume that if they’ve been given a name, then the family has been informed as well. How the heck would one know otherwise? Again, in most cases there is no malice behind this-it’s human nature to share news-good or bad-with others as we’re social beings. Stop making it into a federal crime, geesh!

        My condolences to the family.

    • Bumpys Bie says:

      I found out via “the grape vine” one friend/cousin to another this information was not made public or general knowledge prior to the family being known we as friends and family of Kieko and Snags have nothing but love and respect for these guys and the family and don’t share this information loosely or take their passing and the impact to the family for granted. We all share their pain and will lift them up in their time of bereavement.

      Kieko Snags Im gonna miss you guys

      Bumpys Bie

  25. Condolence to families and friends ! Please allow family the respect, I’m worried being so far away ! LOVE YOU ALL

  26. Wondering says:

    Love and peace to family, friends and Community. Also I agree with St. David’s girl overseas.

  27. Bermy girl says:

    God Bless the family and friends of the deceased. May you find the peace of God and this time, and remember your loved ones are now angels watching over you.
    God bless you!

  28. pebblebeach says:

    So Sad…Condolence to family and friends…

  29. Judith Smith says:

    My condolensces to the family. We were very close.

  30. Shaking my head in Southampton says:

    What a way to start my day this morning on hearing this tragic news. I knew both men very well and have known them since high school. My deepest condolences to their family and friends. I can’t imagine having to swim back to land after an accident as theirs. I fear whenever I hear someone going out fishing at night. Again, my prayers are for strength to the families.

  31. Triangle Drifter says:

    There are a couple of nasty little heads just out from the Battery. Difficult to spot by day. Impossible to see at night. Tragic accident.

  32. 80's Role Model says:

    R.I.P. Mates 1 Love “B.C.C”

  33. Terry says:

    My condolences to he family.

    Something is not right here.

  34. Victor says:

    Very, very sad and tragic – RIP Guys.

    Navigation at night, especially by sight, is incredibly difficult and errors frequently happen with even the most experienced seamen. A lot of experienced guys just stay offshore to first light and then proceed precisely because of incidents like this.

  35. Lyndell Furbert says:

    My condolences to the family. This is so sad. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  36. Ronshana says:

    Where were the lifejackets?

    • What difference would it make ” U ” knowing where the life jackets were.. Do u really need something to chat about that is no ones business.. Of course we all have concerns ! Get a life ! ITS SAD ENOUGH THAT IT HAPPEN ! THESE GUYS KNEW THE WATER LIKE THE BAC OF THIER HANDS………….. STAY POSTIVE !

      • Logic76 says:

        Lifejackets could have been the difference between life and death. There’s a reason for the required safety apparatus on all vessels. Case in point.

      • Ronshana says:

        They obviously “didn’t” know the water like the back of their hands though….

  37. Poetic Justice says:

    After finding out who had passed were I was totally gutted and in still in disbelief so many questions unanswered About the only thing that makes sense to me is they fell asleep while coming in as they would never have knowingly came along that reef line intentionally. I know it was a perfect night to be out on the water and yes there is always a ground swell along the breakers its such a shame this had to happen. My deepest condolences to the family. Things been rough on the reservation and east end for a while now. Godspeed my fallen Warriors!!!

  38. Poetic Justice says:

    Anyone see what is still attached to the top of the boats cabin (seventh picture)also the bright orange painted decks these guys were veteran shipwrights, boaters and fisherman who knew what they were doing. you would be hard pressed to find another boat with bright orange decks locally. It still pains me to think what could have went wrong.

    • Logic76 says:

      Still an odd case. A mayday call was made, meaning minimal catastrophic damage otherwise this VHF radio transmission would not have taken place. There is a reason for the safety requirements on all vessels in these waters.

  39. DJ19 says:

    So Sorry to hear of this terrible loss. My heart goes out to those left behind to grieve. May these two souls rest in peace.

  40. What Next?2012 says:

    @ Margaret rest assured that all relevant family members would have been informed long before day light. Just think … the staff of the Pilot Boat are St David’s men and likely relatives…. you are off base on this issue. Rest In Peace Michael and Clifton, and Condolences of the immediate members and other family members and friends.. God Bless You All!.

    • Margaret says:

      @What Next 2012. I stand by my words. It was stated above clearly that they heard who it was via the Responders. They know better.

      • SO WHAATTTTTTTTTTTT !

      • Bdababycakes says:

        Many people knew those guys went fishing that day and many knew they hadn’t made it back before dark. Harbour radio made a PUBLIC appeal for nearby boaters to assist the fishing vessel “Tern” and MANY East Enders know whose boat that was and several people heard that appeal over the radio. So it was a no brainer to conclude who the 2 men were. You are only “assuming” it was the first responders and you know what they say about “assumptions”!!! Get a life!!!!

  41. Chris says:

    This is such sad and shocking news. My condolences go out to the family and friends of the deceased. I’m going to miss you Mike, I can’t believe your gone :( Rest in peace my friends.

  42. FACT says:

    My deepest condolences to to the family of these two great men. What i remember most about them was you NEVER saw one without the other!!! How ironic:( As far as what happened, we may never know.

    Maybe now is not a good time to educate, but i feel compelled.

    Normal body temperature of course, is 98.6. Shivering and the sensation of cold can begin when the body temperature lowers to approximately 96.5. Amnesia can begin to set in at approximately 94, unconsciousness at 86 and death at approximately 79 degrees.

    Thats just a preview. IF YOU OWN A BOAT OR LIKE TO SPEND TIME ON THE WATER, PLEASE CHECK OUT THIS LINK.

    http://www.ussartf.org/cold_water_survival.htm

  43. Bumpys Bie says:

    Hard to believe that you guys are gone. Having known Kieko and Snags all my life it sure was a blow to hear it was they who had passed last night. They have always greeted me with respect “Hey Bumpy what’s up bie” and never a bad word to say ever. They have been known to my family as long as I can recall and have always been kind loving and respectful. My mother was very upset when she found out who it was and recalled seeing Mike a week or so ago with him greeting her with a warm hug “Hi aunt Gracie” always kind loving and respectful. They typify all and everything it is to be ST Davids Islanders.

    They were inseparable and remind me of the relationship I share with my own brother Gilbert. How saddened to learn that neither could swim and their loss of life may have been through chance and complacency. I will never accept that they knowingly steered their boat along that reef line it makes no sense at all and I feel that they may have fell asleep prior to hitting the reef.

    To Aunt Pinky and the rest of the family my deepest heartfelt condolences you will always be in my thoughts and prayers.

  44. daughter-n-law says:

    My father-n-law was a wonderful, god fearing man. He was one of the reasons why my daughter loves to write books. I still remember Malaikah laying down on her grandfather’s stomach sleeping, him not wanting me to move her, as he ate and dropped little crumbs all over her soft, curly hair. I absolutely loved it and it is a memory I will cherish forever. Thank you ALL for wishing my father-n-law a safe journey back to the Almighty.
    May his soul rest in peace……
    From Azuhaa Abdul-Jabbar.

  45. Spooky says:

    Sorry for the loss of these fishermen. The ocean and mother nature have no mercy on anyone. May god rest their souls.

    On another note, why is it that Marine & Ports pilot boat staff can be out of their beds and on scene in twenty minutes of the Mayday call and the Marine Police are nowhere to be found. Hmmm I’m just sayin’………………….