Investigation into Diver’s Death at Alpha Ventus Re-Opened

An investigation into the death of a diver, who was working on German Alpha Ventus offshore wind farm in 2012, when the fatal accident happened, has been reopened.

Danish authorities, which had initially said that an undiagnosed heart condition was the cause of death, will review the case again after a UK coroner’s inquest last year has shown the neck dam on the diver’s suit was too tight, causing a hypoxic-induced cardiac arrest.

Since the vessel sailed under the Danish flag in German waters, Denmark is responsible for the investigation.

“There was no formal investigation into this accident because the Danish Maritime Authority decided the diver was not a member of the ships crew. All evidence including the helmet cam video was ignored,” the Divers Association stated on its website.

“There is documentation of what happened; I viewed with mounting horror the helmet camera recording of the unfolding tragedy,” Liverpool MP Louise Ellman, whose lobbying in the UK parliament led to the re-examination of the case by the State Attorney in Denmark, said at a House of Commons adjournment debate in November 2015.

On 3 May, 2012, deep-sea diver Stephen O’Malley was on a routine dive from the Blue Capella vessel at the Alpha Ventus offshore wind farm, as he was contracted by a Danish-based company SubC Partner. A recording from his helmet camera shows he had sent a distress call less than two minutes after he dived into the water. “I can’t breathe with the neckdam. It’s choking me,” the unfortunate diver told his supervisor.

“The final call for help from Stephen came after 6 minutes and 25 seconds, yet it was nine minutes from the start of the dive before a rescue diver was sent down,” Ellman explained at the debate in November. The rescue diver could not locate the clip on O’Malley’s suit to hoist him up to the surface. “He made valiant efforts, but Stephen became entangled in the umbilical air cord.”

More time had passed before O’Malley was brought up to the vessel and before resuscitation began. About an hour later, a doctor was flown out from Germany and pronounced him dead. “There was no sense of urgency, and it is unclear whether the crew were made aware of what was happening. The company issued a statement that Stephen had died of a heart attack,” Ellman said.

“There are a lot of issues around this case which was never investigated properly in the first place,” BBC quotes Derek Marsh from the Divers Association as saying.

The UK coroner issued a report to SubC Partner and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport, Liverpool Echo writes.