Boy, 6, wins right to sue over dad’s tragic diving trip
THE six-year-old schoolboy son of a Birmingham diver who died on an expedition off the Scottish coast has won the right to seek damages from a charter company.
Lex Warner, from Sutton Coldfield, died in 2012 during a diving expedition near Cape Wrath on the northern tip of Scotland.
His widow Debbie previously sought damages from Orkney-based Scapa Flow Charters (SFC) but the legal action was time-barred.
Now the Supreme Court in London has ruled that her claim on behalf of her son, Vincent, should be allowed to proceed.
Mr Warner was preparing to dive from the MV Jean Elaine, a boat hired from SFC, when he fell on the deck. He was helped to his feet and continued with the dive, but got into trouble while submerged and could not be revived back on board.
Mrs Warner sought damages on behalf of herself and her son in 2015, claiming her husband’s death was the result of SFC’s negligence.
But the company lodged a defence that the case was time-barred under the Athens Convention, which sets out laws on action for damages relating to the carriage of passengers at sea.
The Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled in favour of the firm at the time – but now, Vincent’s claim will proceed.
Experienced diver Mr Warner suffered catastrophic internal injuries during the fall.
Vincent wants to know why his father, a member of the elite Dark Star diving team, a man who taught the sport, decided to dive despite the injuries he had suffered. The family has been told those injuries were similar to those of a car crash victim, yet still her husband went into the water that fateful day.
Mr Warner reached a depth of 88 metres – he had planned to dive to 95 metres – when he began to feel unwell and desperately tried to reach the surface.
By the time he was hauled back on to the 73-tonne chartered boat, he had stopped breathing.
Attempts by crew members and coastguards flown out to the vessel, proved unsuccessful. His body was brought back from the waters near Cape Wrath, Britain’s most north-westerly 15 hours after the tragedy.
Ever since that terrible day – August 14, 2012 – widow Mrs Warner, 46, from Minworth, has tried to make sense of the accident.
Just hours before Mr Warner made his last dive, she had called him to let him know that she was pregnant.
Tragically, she lost the baby weeks after the shock of her husband’s death.
A 2013 inquest was told that Mr Warner suffered “chronic injuries” after falling in full gear on the boat. The tops of cylinders attached to his thighs crushed his abdomen.
But accident reports state that he still wanted to dive, assuring skipper Andrew Cuthbertson and other members of the team that he was okay.
“He had been diving for 15 years,” she says. “He was an instructor. He was top of the tree. Safety was always of paramount importance. He wouldn’t go in the water if he stubbed his toe. If someone falls on a boat, surely you’re not going to let him go in the water?”
The Jean Elaine’s skipper said he was satisfied with the safety arrangements on his boats, and the inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death. point,
> Lex Warner in his gear – the experienced diver slipped and fell on a boat