The Commission of Enquiry (CoE) into the Paria/LMCS diving tragedy has now pushed the delivery of its report to the State to May.
During the Evidential Hearings stage in January, CoE Chairman Jerome Lynch, KC said he aimed to deliver the report by the end of April. During last Wednesday's visit to the Paria Fuel Trading Company, Pointe-a-Pierre, to view the LMCS hyperbaric chamber, Lynch admitted there were some delays due to the lateness of viewing the equipment and logistical issues. However, he said that together with Commissioner Gregory Wilson, they were playing catch up to fulfil their promised delivery date.
In a media release yesterday, the CoE confirmed that the inspection of the hyperbaric chamber was the last evidence. It has formed preliminary views relating to the CoE. However, it cannot deliver the report until May as the law mandates the CoE to issue Salmon letters. These letters contain criticisms of individuals and entities who may be affected by the report.
“It is important that the recipients of these Salmon letters have as much detail of the criticisms as would allow them to properly make representations if they so wish for our consideration. Unfortunately, those detailed letters cannot be ready before Friday 28 April 2023. Consequently, our ambition to have the report completed by the end of April 2023 cannot be realised.”
While the CoE expects to have responses to those letters in a timely fashion, it said it will not complete the report until May.
“It is to be regretted that there has been this slippage, but in the interest of fairness to those who may be criticised, it is necessary,” the release stated.
The CoE orders that recipients receive Salmon letters on or before April 28. Those who wish to make representations must submit them in writing by May 12.
The CoE will be ready to hear oral submissions after it issues “Salmon” letters in an individual in-camera hearing. Any party, by themselves or by Counsel, who wishes to make submissions must indicate their desires to the CoE secretary by May 5. The CoE will allocate an individual time slot to them. A recipient of a Salmon letter will not be permitted to make oral representations at an in-camera hearing of the CoE without first presenting written submissions. The CoE will convene in-camera hearings on May 15 and 16 at a venue not yet decided.
The State appointed the CoE to probe the tragic incidents, which occurred on February 25, 2022, at Paria's Sealine No 32 at Berth No 6 in the Pointe-a-Pierre harbour. LMCS divers Christopher Boodram, Kazim Ali Jr, Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry and Rishi Nagassar were removing an inflatable plug in the hyperbaric chamber that afternoon when a Delta P event flooded the room and sucked them into the 30-inch diameter pipeline.
Boodram, who entered the pipe last, crawled and swam back to the chamber. Despite confirming his colleagues were alive in the pipeline, Ali Jr, Kurban, Henry, and Nagassar died while awaiting rescue. Paria flushed their bodies out in the following days.