Family ‘devastated’ as Hartlepool fisherman reported missing after boat capsizes

David Stead
David Stead

The family of a fisherman from Hartlepool who is missing feared dead after a boat capsized in an accident off the Scottish coast say they are devastated by the tragedy.

Hopes are fading for David Stead, 47, who was one of three fishermen on a 10ft boat which overturned in the Forth of Firth on Monday.

Chief Inspector Adrian Annandale.

Chief Inspector Adrian Annandale.

One crew member, Birrell Stewart, 30, was recovered from the water after emergency services launched a huge search, but died shortly after being airlifted to hospital.

David and his friend Jason Buchan, 35, are still missing.

David, a keen fisherman, was from Hartlepool, where he still has a large extended family including four sisters and a daughter he was devoted to.

He moved to Scotland, where he has relatives, about two years ago and had been living at East Wemyss.

Teams  looking along the Firth of Forth.

Teams looking along the Firth of Forth.

Members of his family travelled from Hartlepool to the scene to lay flowers after hearing the news.

Speaking on behalf of the family, David’s sister Caroline Rigg, 43, said: “We are such a close, loving family. We are absolutely distraught and devastated.

“We only rang him on Friday and Saturday. He had been to a music festival and was saying he was enjoying himself.

“We all went straight up there after we heard what happened. There was a helicopter searching for them.

Rescue crews along the Firth of Forth.

Rescue crews along the Firth of Forth.

“We laid flowers and threw yellow roses into the sea. It has been a tragic accident and is a very tragic time for the family.”

David also has three other sisters; Michelle Ringwood, 48, Tracey Stead, 46, Melita Harland, 45, and a daughter Lauren, in her early 20s, who he doted on.

He was popular with everyone who knew him, said Caroline and loved his new life in Scotland.

She added: “David went to see family in Scotland and liked it so much he ended up staying.

“He lived with our cousin May and her husband Andy, who was like a brother to him.

“They all loved him and thought the world of him. He and the lads he was fishing with were all so close as well as all his other mates.”

Close family friend Michael Day, from Hartlepool, also expressed his sadness at the news.

Michael said: “I’ve known him all my life. He was just a happy-go-lucky person, a really nice lad.

“He was always fishing off the Heugh and helping out on the quays.

“Hopefully, he will be found and his body recovered so his family can lay him to rest.”

Chief Inspector Adrian Annandale, Area Commander for Levenmouth, said: “Tragically, this incident has resulted in the death of one local fisherman, with two of his friends still missing.

“We have been working closely with colleagues from the Coastguard as well as volunteer lifeboat personnel and I would like to thank our partners for all of their assistance and support.

“My thoughts are with the friends and family of all of the fisherman, and with the local community at this time.”