Survivor on Paria report against LMCS: ‘DON’T BLAME DIVER’S DAD’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

BOODRAM’S PAIN: The lone survivor of the Paria diving tragedy Christopher Boodram wept as he recounted the incident that led to four of his colleagues deaths during the Commissioner of Enquiry into the tragedy in 2022. – FILE PHOTO

Contrary to a recommendation in the Commission of Enquiry’s final report into the 2022 Paria diving tragedy, the lone survivor does not want Kazim Ali Snr, the owner of Land and Marine Contracting Services Ltd (LMCS), to be prosecuted in any way.

“Mr Ali has suffered a lot already and is still going through a lot of pain,” a sombre-looking Christopher Boodram told Newsday on Friday afternoon, shortly after the report was laid in Parliament.

Ali’s son, Kazim Ali Jnr, who also died in the tragedy, would have turned 39 on Friday, and Boodram wished him a “happy heavenly birthday.”

Ali Jnr, together with his LMCS colleagues Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry, and Rishi Nagassar, died in the incident which happened on February 25, 2022.

Boodram and the four were repairing a 30-inch pipeline at Paria’s Pointe-a-Pierre facility, where they were sucked in. Only Boodram survived.

The report concluded there was evidence to prosecute Paria Fuel’s terminal operations manager Colin Piper and Ali Snr individually for offences under the Occupational Safety and Health  (OSH) Act.

The report recommends that Paria and LMCS also face charges for offences under the OSH Act.

“Piper showed no signs of sincerity to the families. No one from Paria has apologised to the families. In trying to forgive, I would not like him to be prosecuted, but the company should hold full responsibility,” Boodram said.

“I am pleased to hear that Paria was grossly responsible for the incident. As he (CoE commissioner/chairman Jerome Lynch, KC) said, it was no accident.”

The report said the Director of Public Prosecutions should consider charging Paria with corporate manslaughter.

The commissioners recommended that on evidence, there were sufficient grounds to conclude that Paria’s negligence could be characterised as gross negligence and consequently criminal.

Boodram said since 8 am on Friday, he had been watching the Parliament channel, not wanting to miss anything.

He expressed disappointment that there were no breakdowns of the document in Parliament.

“I was hoping that the outcome today would have done something for me. But it is too early to say because I have not read everything in the report,” Boodram said.

The father of three has been unable to work, saying the tragedy constantly replays in his mind, and he has problems sleeping.

At times, he gets three hours asleep and on a good night, about five. He is receiving counselling, and the process is ongoing.

LMCS owner Kazim Ali Snr during a memorial service for his son Kazim Ali Jnr and his employees Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagessar and Yusuf Henry in March, 2022. The Commission of Enquiry into the tragedy has recommended that Ali Snr should be charged with breaches of the OSH Act for the incident. – FILE PHOTO

“I get anxious and depressed as soon as the place starts to get dark. Sometimes, I would jump up and gasp for breath when I am asleep. Sometimes, I would lie to sleep and cannot sleep, feeling as if I was being pulled into a pipe.”

“Diving is my passion. But from the incident to now, I cannot bring myself to go to the sea. I love spear fishing too, and I have not gone to sea for two years now.

“Sometimes I think it might have been easier for me and my family if I had died. I would not have been a financial burden. My wife, a nurse, has been taking care of the family financially.”

Having yet to read the report in its entity, Boodram said he would be looking out for recommendations for financial compensation.

He intends to speak with his attorney to find out the way forward.