Tributes to 'great' Joe Laws, Hull sailor killed by freak wave in North Sea
THE family of an "outgoing and popular" Hull sailor killed when a freak wave hit his ship have spoken of their grief.
Joseph Laws, 50, died on an oil industry supply vessel, the Vos Sailor, 120 miles off Aberdeen in the North Sea.
Speaking ahead of his funeral later this week, his family paid tribute to a warm-hearted man.
Mr Laws' brother-in-law Ken Huggins said: "Joe had been at sea his whole life. He loved the sea.
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"He died at the top of his game and was second only to the captain.
"Joe's family is absolutely devastated. It was an awful shock when we heard what happened."
According to Grampian Police, other crew members were airlifted to safety, while a rescue winchman remained onboard.
Reports in other media suggesting Mr Laws had been washed overboard are false, Mr Huggins told the Mail.
Mr Laws suffered fatal injuries when the huge wave hit the ship.
Mr Huggins, a retired police officer, said: "He was a great guy and very generous to his nephews and nieces who loved him."
The tragedy happened on December 15, but details have only emerged now.
"Christmas did not exist for us," said Mr Huggins.
Mr Laws, who worked four weeks at a time for Dutch company Vroon Shipping Company, lived alone in Denaby Court, a tower block off Holderness Road, east Hull.
Tony Hardy, 72, who lives in the block, where he was once the caretaker, was friends with Mr Laws for more than 20 years. He said: "Joe was a very well-liked, respected and popular man. He was a very good man.
"He was a sociable guy and would buy anyone a pint at our local when he got back from a trip."
Staff at the Elephant and Castle pub in Holderness Road have placed a photograph of him in fancy dress on the bar in tribute to a popular and respected customer.
Simon Quail, who has managed the pub for a year but had known Mr Laws for more than 20 years, said he would be sorely missed.
He said: "Joe was just a real nice kid. He was always glad to be home after a trip and would come straight here for a pint with us.
"Everyone was very upset when we heard what had happened.
"Joe has a lot of very good friends in this place."
Mr Laws, whose late father John was also a seafarer, is survived by his mother Jaqueline and stepfather Gus.
He has two brothers, John and Ian, and three sisters, Julie, Kerry and Belinda.
Mr Laws' funeral takes place at 11.30am on Friday at Chanterland Avenue Crematorium in west Hull. His family have requested donations to the Seafarers' Mission, in lieu of flowers.