Crime & Courts

Boat Owner In Court After Zimbabwean Rower Died Six Years Ago In World Record Bid

The owner of a rowing boat has been sentenced after a man trying to complete a world record challenge was lost overboard six years ago.

Michael Johnson, 21, di€d in 2016 while attempting to cross the Atlantic ocean in 32 days.

A court heard that the crew of eight using the Toby Wallace had little training and were not safety briefed.

Simon Chalk, of Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, admitted failing to ensure the vessel’s safe operation.

Mr Johnson, from Zimbabwe, was fatally swept overboard by a large wave, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said.

The seven rowers who remained on the boat were unable to stop and eventually lost sight of Mr Johnson.

It was previously reported that the rower’s safety leash around his ankle snapped which separated him from the boat. He was also not wearing a lifejacket.

The body of Mr Johnson, who had been rowing since 2007, was never found.

Chalk, who was charged under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, was given a 12-month suspended sentence.

The 51-year-old was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work at the Bristol Crown Court hearing.

Lead investigator for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency Jay Staff said: “At this time, the MCA is mindful of the family and friends of Michael Johnson, who have seen justice served in this tragic case.”

Mr Staff said the MCA would continue to ensure everyone going out on the water is protected to avoid future incidents.


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