Kussie’s nightmare: Identifying diver husband’s body

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Vanessa Kussie, wife of underwater welder Rishi Nagessar, is supported by relatives after she identified his body at the Forensic Science Centre in St James on Thursday. – AYANNA KINSALE

The widow of diver Rishi Nagessar identified his body on Thursday morning at the Forensic Sciences Centre (FSC), St James.

Vanessa Kussie was accompanied by one of her sons and relatives Angi Benjamin and Allan Seepersad, who arrived at the FSC shortly after 9 am and were called inside around 11.45 am.

As she left the building, around 12.45 pm, Kussie was overcome with grief, making it difficult for her to walk. She did not speak with the media and was quickly taken to a vehicle.

Benjamin told reporters Nagessar’s body remained intact and looked better than those of his colleagues who suffered the same fate. His autopsy will be done on Monday.

Nagessar was part of a five-member team who went missing while working on a 30-inch underwater crude oil pipeline in Pointe-a-Pierre on February 25.

Christopher Boodram was rescued shortly after the incident on February 25. The bodies of Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr and Yusuf Henry were recovered on Monday night. Nagessar’s body was found early on Thursday.

The men worked for LMCS Ltd, owned by Kazim Ali Snr and contracted by Paria Fuel Trading.

Benjamin said, “This is the cruelty of our experience, and it is sad to see how many people did not pressure this company to ensure that somebody went down on Saturday. The chances of them being alive on Saturday were super-high.

“It saddens everybody. It is something that has hit home for all of us.

“Right now, Rishi’s mother is in a state (of shock). This is the highest injustice I have ever seen, and no one is answering. There is no accountability, OSHA (the Occupational Health and Safety Agency) should be all over Paria because there are other lives in there, other men who are working on that same berth.”

Benjamin also called on the media to be objective and dig for the truth of the matter.

The retrieval of Nagessar’s body offered Kussie and the family closure on the tragic incident, but it also confirmed Kussie’s worst fear, that her husband was dead.

She told Newsday on Wednesday that since her husband went missing she was not sleeping or eating well and was disoriented.

Her biggest challenge, she said, was explaining the situation to their youngest son, who believed his father was at work. His third birthday will be next month.

“I have been getting an hour or two hours’ sleep daily, but not a restful sleep since Friday,” she said.

“I tried telling our youngest that his daddy was in heaven with one of our aunts, but he burst out and said, ‘No, that’s not true, he is in work and will come home just now.’ I don’t know how to go about explaining this to him.”

Kussie said on some days leading up to February 25, she had reservations about the job, but Nagessar convinced her it was safe, and said he would be home in time for dinner.

“He drew the pipe on the table and was explaining what he had to do. I was worried and kept asking what if something went wrong, but he assured me that nothing would.

“When I did not see him come home on Friday and I texted him around 5 pm but he did not respond, I knew something was wrong.

“I was so worried about him that everything I did after that text went wrong. I was cutting onions, but the cutting board was sliding. I went to wash clothes and I saw the machine sticking.

“And somehow, I just knew something was wrong.”

Kussie reminisced about her first meeting with Nagassar over 13 years ago, at her workplace, when she ran a bar and restaurant.

“He came for food and drinks with his friends and sometimes Mr Ali (Kazim Snr) was there.

“Rishi was very quiet but helpful. We became friends and that evolved into courtship and then we formed this union. My children love him, and my family loves him.”

This is Kussie’s second marriage after the death of her first husband. She has two older children, 28 and 18, from her previous marriage. She said Nagessar was loving to her children and treated them like his own.

“He became a father to them without any reservations. He loved them, cared for them, supported them and gave them all of him. They know him as their dad. Our two-year-old is his eyeball.”

Nagessar, she said, would text her “Good morning, have a great day” every morning since the day they met, and the realisation that those texts would not be coming to her phone any more was hard to swallow.

“He always had a surprise for no reason. It was not fancy or expensive, but he always made the effort to put a smile on my face, from bringing fruits to a single rose. His efforts were appreciated and loved. Even now he would do that. He is a simple man.”

Kussie maintained that had Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd acted swiftly and initiated the relevant protocols, her husband and his team would be alive today.