Boy, 6, wins right to sue over dad’s tragic div­ing trip

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Lynsey Bews Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.