A former consultant surgeon told a court today that he considered pain from internal injuries was “a factor” in a diver making an ascent to the surface before he lost his life.
Lex Warner, 50, died in August 2012 while taking part in a dive on a wreck off the north coast of Scotland and his widow Debbie is now pursuing a damages claim on behalf of their nine-year-old son Vincent.
The Court of Session in Edinburgh heard that analysis of Mr Warner’s dive computer showed that after nine minutes and 20 seconds the recreational technical diver had reached a maximum depth of 88 metres.
Pain from internal injuries
He then began ascending at a rate of approximately seven metres a minute and reached two other divers who reported him to be distressed.
A regulator came out of his mouth and he rapidly became unresponsive before he was lifted to the surface and he was retrieved from the water.
A post mortem examination found a large amount of gas in tissues consistent with a rapid ascent, blood in his abdomen and tears to the liver.
Mr Warner fell on the deck of Jean Elaine while wearing diving gear before making the dive from the vessel.
Retired consultant vascular surgeon John Drury, who prepared a report, gave evidence in the court action.
Robert Milligan QC, senior counsel for the Warner family, said: “The most likely cause of him seeking to ascend rapidly was because of pain from internal injuries.”
Mr Drury said: “I think it would have been a factor in making him want to ascend, yes. I think the internal injury did have a material contribution to whatever circumstances which caused him to abort the dive.”
But Mr Drury said he saw the liver injury as “part of a multifactorial situation” and some of the events he could not comment on.
“It sounds to me as though if he became distressed there was something else causing the distress apart from the effects of his liver injury and I don’t know what that is,” he said.
Boat firm sued for £500,000
Andrew Smith QC, for Scapa Flow Charters, said: “We know that he had a liver injury but there will be other things, but we aren’t sure what they are. Is that what it comes to with this?”
Mr Drury said he would agree with that and added that it appeared to him the diver was struggling to breathe.
Mrs Warner, of Sutton Coldfield, in the West Midlands, is suing Scapa Flow Charters, of Stromness, Orkney, as guardian of her son in the £500,000 action. Liability is contested.
It is claimed that the firm was at fault and negligent in failing to take reasonable care for the safety of the deceased.
Scapa Flow Charters maintains that after the fall on the boat Mr Warner voluntarily elected to proceed with the dive north west of Cape Wrath despite his injury.
The hearing before Lord Sandison continues.