Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Man Overboard Found Hiding On Ship

An oil worker found stowed away on his own ship after a two-day search and rescue mission is not to be prosecuted. Christopher McGonigle was missing presumed drowned after vanishing from a dive support vessel in the North Sea. For almost two days it was feared the 35-year-old had fallen from DSND Pelican. Helicopters and ships scoured the Blane field, 140 miles east of Aberdeen. Crew thought they had fully searched the Pelican. But the missing man was found late on Sunday holed up behind a roof panel with a supply of food and drink. McGonigle's family yesterday hailed the news of his being alive as "a miracle". The remotely operated vehicle controller had been lying injured behind the bulkhead in a storeroom. Colleagues training in a neighbouring gym heard a noise and went to investigate. McGonigle had a broken leg and back injuries but should make a full recovery. He was flown to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary yesterday morning where he told staff he felt as if he had been "trampled by a horse".Grampian Police, who had been set to fly out to the vessel to probe his disappearance, were waiting to interview him. Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cooper said there was "no criminal aspect" to the incident and inquiries were over. But McGonigle's bosses at Aberdeen's Subsea 7 will also seek an explanation for the baffling episode. A spokesman said: "Where the guy hid was particularly inaccessible. The boat was searched exhaustively on a number of occasions. "It will be a while before we can have a conversation with him to try to establish exactly what his reasons were." Yesterday, Father John Doherty from McGonigle's home town of Strabane in Northern Ireland said the family were delighted. He said: "I spoke to his two sisters and they think it's just a miracle. It's the greatest Christmas present that they'll ever hope to receive." McMonigle, who is single, is from a family of seven. His widowed mum Clare, a hairdresser, was heading to Aberdeen to see her son. Aberdeen Coastguard watch manager George Downie said: "We are amazed and delighted that this man has been found."

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