Lamma IV coxswain recalls last moments on sinking ferry
The coxswain of the ill-fated Lamma IV said he was the last person to abandon his ship after it collided with the ferry Sea Smooth, the commission of inquiry was told on Tuesday.
Captain Chow Chi-wai said that when rescuers came to the wheelhouse, there were three women and a man with him. Only two of the women were wearing life jackets.
Chow said he let the passengers leave the vessel, then called out to see whether any others were inside the vessel. By that time Lamma IV was already vertical in the water with its bow in the air, and the water had almost reached the wheelhouse.
Chow had broken his right elbow and some ribs in the collision.
He then moved outside, climbing through a broken window with the help of rescuers, and stood on Lamma IV’s superstructure.
Firemen encouraged him to board the life raft. “But I saw people were still in the water, so I refused to leave,” Chow told the inquiry.
He saw his engineer, Leung Pui-sang, helping people in the water to board life rafts. Finally, sometime between 9.10pm and 9.15pm - when he saw no other passengers left in the water - Chow boarded a police launch. The collision happened at 8.20pm.
He was sent to Queen Mary’s Hospital and was discharged on October 6.
Thirty-nine people died in the tragedy, last October 1, as the Lamma IV was carrying passengers towards Victoria Harbour to enjoy the National Day fireworks show.
Many of the dead were trapped directly behind the wheelhouse, pinned by upper deck seats which broke loose in the crash.