Police name men who died in fishing boat sinking

Five men died when Enchanter sank off North Cape on the weekend. Photo: Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter/Supplied

Police have named the last two men who died when the fishing charter vessel Enchanter sank in the Far North.

They were Geoffrey James Allen, aged 72, and Mark Keith Walker, 41. Both were from Cambridge in Waikato.

The men were on a fishing trip along with a group of friends when the Enchanter got into trouble off North Cape on Sunday evening.

Five people, including captain Lance Goodhew, were pulled alive from the water, and have since been released from hospital.

The bodies of five others were recovered over the following two days.

Police say they extended their “deepest condolences” to the families of the victims.

“Post-mortem examinations for some of the deceased commenced yesterday and these will continue today.

“The deaths will be referred to the Coroner and Police are continuing to make inquiries into the incident on behalf of the Coroner.”

Earlier, friends and whānau of the other three who died – Cambridge men Mike Lovett, 72, Richard Bright, 63, and Mark Sanders, 43, paid tribute to them in interviews with Stuff.

Lovett, a father of four, was employed as a handyman at thoroughbred horse breeder The Oaks Stud, and had worked there for the past 16 years.

He was part of a horse racing syndicate that owned a horse named after him, called Lovettitorleaveit.

“Mike was a good old-fashioned Kiwi. He was honest, reliable and consistent. He was a very handy man to have around,” says Rick Williams, the general manager of The Oaks Stud.

Bright, a father of two, was the publican of the Group One Turf Bar in Cambridge.

Williams says Bright was “larger than life” and raised a lot of money for charities and groups.

“He had that sort of irrepressible character and personality about him – very cheeky.”

Williams knew Sanders, a builder and father of three, through horse racing. The pair had travelled overseas together, when Sanders trained horses in partnership with his father, Graeme Sanders.

“He was just a top bloke. He had a terrific work ethic and was a good family man.”

On Monday, Sanders’ family told Stuff the fishing charter was his “dream trip” – an excursion he’d planned for more than a year.

Before leaving, he told his father he was worried about the forecast.

In a phone call to his wife and children about 6pm on Sunday, Sanders said he was having a great time, but the sea was getting rough.

A distress beacon was activated two hours later and the boat was confirmed to have sunk about 2am Monday.

A rāhui is now in place in the area.


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