William Mainprize: Coroner declares missing Australian deceased three years after

Three years on from the day he disappeared into the sea during a typhoon, a coroner has handed down her findings into the death of William Mainprize.

However, unanswered questions about the fate of the Australian stockman and the 39 other crew whose bodies were also never recovered, means there will be “no closure” for his brother Tom.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Shannon Freund found that Will died on or about September 2 2020, approximately 100 nautical miles west of Japan while working as a stockman on the Gulf Livestock 1, transporting 5800 cattle from New Zealand to the Port of Jingtang in China.

While other ships in the area had changed course to avoid Typhoon Maysak, Livestock 1 headed straight toward the category four storm.

Will documented the 107 km/h winds battering the vessel, messaging his family hourly updates and sending videos of water filling the corridors of the vessel.

He signed off for the night as the boat headed into Maysak, promising he would contact them when he woke up the next day.

With his mother and sister tracking him on a ship website, the boat soon disappeared off the maps.

The coroner found the rough seas whipped up by the typhoon likely caused the main propulsion engine to fail before the whole boat was “tipped over by a powerful broadside wave”.

“The manner of his death was misadventure, and the cause of his death will remain unascertained,” Magistrate Freund said.

Despite three years of grief, Tom says he considers himself “incredibly lucky” to have had him as a brother.

“He was so loving and kind to everyone and that’s what I feel like what he was put on this earth to do, to make everyone else’s lives better,” he said.

The then 27-year-old was completing his masters in education, a passion inspired from working with disadvantaged youth, proof that “everything he was doing was trying to help others” according to Tom.

In her findings, Magistrate Freund noted that Will was described as “the most warm-hearted person you could meet” whose life was cut short by “tragedy” .

“He was clearly a beautiful, kind and compassionate young man who cared about others. He also loved adventure and travel,” she wrote.

“He loved his family and friends, and they loved him. He is profoundly missed.”

Australian and Indonesian authorities recorded dozens of safety breaches on the 133.6 metre long vessel in the 18 months before it sank, including stability issues and critical failures of its propulsion and navigations systems.

As the vessel was registered in Panama, infamous for its lax regulations, little investigation was conducted into why the ship sunk.

“I get a bit angry about how easily this could happen again, because this could happen tomorrow, and no one would be held accountable,” Tom said.

Finding purpose in grief, Tom and his siblings established the Will Mainprize Project to raise money for disadvantaged youth charities and eventually run its own programs.

“We’re trying to raise awareness and inspire people to get outside and embrace adventure like Will did,” he said.

The not-for-profit brought Tom to Mongolia to follow in his brother’s footsteps in an attempt to track down the last eagle hunters, something that had a profound impact on him.

“It gave me a massive sense of, not relief, but peace knowing that he’s experienced such things and it was just the most beautiful, beautiful place and beautiful people,” he said.

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