Harry Evans, 23, died after being bitten by a sea snake last year. Picture: Supplied
Harry Evans, 23, died after being bitten by a sea snake last year. Picture: Supplied

Backpacker’s death by sea snake bite ‘likely inevitable’

THE DEATH of an English backpacker from a sea snake bite on a prawn trawler in the Gulf of Carpentaria last year was most likely inevitable, a Coroner's court heard on Wednesday.

In the second and final day of a coronial inquest into the death of 23-year-old Harry Evans, who was folding a fishing net on a trawler in October last year when he was fatally bitten, the Coroner heard the vessel was too far from necessary medical attention for him to be saved in time.

The vessel was around seven hours offshore at the time of the incident, with a rescue helicopter from Katherine expected to take around two and a half hours to arrive.

Mr Evans died just two hours and twenty minutes after being bitten.

A Forensic Pathology report submitted to the Coroner said Mr Evans would have likely had to have been intubated - a procedure that can only be performed by a doctor - within two hours to survive the bite.

"The most important aspect regarding snakebites at remote locations is awareness and prevention of snakebites, as the prognosis is poor in cases of envenomation where there is a significant delay in obtaining appropriate medical treatment," the report said.

In a statement read to the court, Mr Evans' father Tim Camp criticised the response to the snake bite, saying if the trawler's crew had responded faster he would have had "half a chance" at surviving.

However, Coroner Greg Cavanagh said Mr Camp, who lives in England, likely did not understand the remoteness of the area.

"The love of a father for a son as shown by that statement is obvious and draws complete sympathy from me," he said.

"It's very difficult being in England to come to grips with the tyranny of distance.

"The other thing people from Europe don't understand is there's not emergency services dotted along the coast."

Managing Director Norm Peovitis of WA Seafood Exporters, the company Mr Evans was working for, told the inquest the incident prompted a review into the company's safety procedures.

"We ensured we had snake hooks on board in numerous places on the vessels," Mr Peovitis said.

"We also produced stainless steel hooks that the crew can use to move the net around so they don't have to use their hands to move the net."

The findings of the inquest will be handed down on a date to be set.



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