Diver’s widow hopeful CoE will bring closure, justice

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Vanessa Kussie, common-law wife of Rishi Naggasar, weeps after she relays her feeling about hearing the audio of her husband during the commission of enquiry into his death. Kussie attended a press conference held by the OWTU at Paramount Building, San Fernando on Wednesday. – ANGELO MARCELLE

VANESSA Kussie, widow of diver Rishi Nagassar, said the start of the commission of enquiry (CoE) into the Paria tragedy has given her hope that the families who lost loved ones would finally get justice and closure.

With tears streaming down her face, Kussie told the Newsday at Paramount Building, San Fernando, on Wednesday, that nine months after the February 25 tragedy, the pain and trauma had not lessened.

She said neither she nor her children are coping well.

“I cry every day. My baby (their three-year old son) asks every day when his Daddy is coming home.”

She said it has been a double blow for her two older sons, who are from a previous marriage. Their father died, she said and Nagassar was the only father they had known for the past 13 years.

“They loved him and he loved them. It’s been hard.”

In an interview with the media after a news conference called by the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) to make a statement on the Paria tragedy, Kussie said the testimony of Christopher Boodram, the lone survivor, and the voices of her husband and his other colleagues – Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr and Yusuf Henry – had made her relive the pain.

“These past couple of days, it has been sad to see the actual footage of them diving in the water, and on Tuesday, to hear Christopher’s testimony.”

She and members of the Kurban family went to Tuesday’s hearing to support Boodram, who broke down several times while giving testimony, as he felt he had failed them by surviving.

“His testimony was sad and touching at the same time. It hurt to hear and experience everything that took place inside the pipeline. They were in there for a long period.”

She said nothing was done to save them, “and that is the part that is hurting us the most.”

She said her husband was unconscious and was given oxygen, and hence survived longer than the others. He was also the last to be taken out, four days after the incident. She said his body, which she identified at the Forensic Sciences Centre, was in a better state than the other divers.

The divers were sucked into a 30-inch Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd underwater crude oil pipeline, Pointe-a-Pierre, on February 25. Boodram was the lone survivor.

The men worked for LMCS Ltd, owned by Kazim Ali Snr, which was contracted by Paria to do maintenance work on the pipeline.

The CoE into what caused the mishap started on Monday with Jerome Lynch, KC, at the helm. The team visited the hyperbaric chamber in which the men were trapped on Wednesday.

The enquiry will continue on Thursday.