The death of a Merseyside diver – fatally choked while working on a German off-shore wind farm – needs an urgent probe, parliament will be told today.
Stephen O’Malley’s partner Nicola want answers about how a diving ring – worn around his neck and connected to his helmet – managed to throttle him as he worked on a contracting job, over three years ago.
The 48-year-old was wrongly recorded as having died from an undiagnosed heart condition by Danish authorities before that ruling was rubbished by a Liverpool coroner in September as “bizarre and fanciful”.
His death was re-recorded as being caused by hypoxic-induced cardiac arrest because of an over-tight neck equipment ring. Now Mr O’Malley’s family are trying to get the truth about his asphyxiation.
The May 2012 tragedy, in the North Sea, near Bokum, will be highlighted in the House of Commons today by Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman during a 30-minute adjournment debate.
A government minister from the transport department will have to attend to update relatives on the enquiry.
Disturbing CCTV footage was played during September’s inquest in Liverpool which showed the diver, from the city centre, shouting: “The neck dam is restricting my breathing.”
Soon after, he said: “I can’t breathe with the neck dam. It’s choking me.”
A colleague is heard to reply: “Just take your time Stephen, orientate yourself and get your breath back.”
The diver was eventually pulled back onto the ship, but it took eight minutes and 35 seconds to summon a supervisor to rescue him.
Mr O’Malley was only two metres below the water’s surface, but after colleagues struggled to locate the clip on his helmet, vital time had been lost.
Joe Braniff, dad of the Mr O’Malley’s girlfriend, Nicola, told the ECHO: “We want Stephen’s death re-opened so we can find out the truth.
“He was just 32 yards from the boat, yet it took 15 minutes to get him out the water.
“A stand-by diver wasn’t deployed in time, and a guy on a rope wasn’t available either.”
Mr O’Malley was pronounced dead by a doctor who was flown out to the ship after an hour of resuscitation attempts.
A report, issued by Liverpool coroner Andre Rebello at the inquest, was sent to Mr O’Malley’s employer SubC Partner, based in Denmark, and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport.
The government said that the dossier has been passed to the Health and Safety Executive for further investigations.
The inquest recorded a narrative verdict into the tragedy.
Mrs Ellman told the ECHO: “I’ve been working with Stephen’s partner Nicola as I have concerns about what happened and the absence of a proper investigation.
“I’m dissatisfied about the current position and would like a full enquiry into Mr O’Malley’s death.
“This has wider implications for the safety of the whole commercial diving industry.”