Lifejacket honours lost Stockton victim of helicopter smash.

A NEW lifejacket has been poignantly named after a Stockton man lost at sea in a helicopter crash.

by Mike Blackburn, Evening Gazette
Keith Lawrence Smith was among five gas platform workers and two pilots killed when the SA365N Dauphin plunged into the Irish Sea on December 27, 2006.

A NEW lifejacket has been poignantly named after a Stockton man lost at sea in a helicopter crash.

The body of the divorced dad, 57, who lived with his fiancee in Ingleby Barwick, was never found after the crash off Morecambe Bay.
New safety jackets have now been introduced for Mr Smith’s colleagues.
It is called the KLS Jacket, after him. The lifejackets were adapted by Centrica Energy East Irish Sea safety official Sharon Brady, who was personally affected by the tragedy.
She said: « It was the shock, I think, at the beginning. We had never had a helicopter accident before. I knew all of them, having worked offshore. »
It particularly concerned Sharon that Mr Smith’s body was never recovered. She said: « The law says you have to give people the best possible chance of rescue and recovery, but it does not say anything about the recovery of dead people. »
The crash probe found recovery equipment could potentially be enhanced, which set Sharon to work.
Kevin Cochrane, Centrica Energy East Irish Sea company chief, agreed to fund work to devise a lifejacket that gave a better chance of finding victims and other improvements.
Sharon said: « Kevin allowed us to take a step further with a design which is better for recovering live personnel, but is about bringing home all the bodies as well. »
The jacket’s design makes it easier for workers who ditch in the sea to be tracked and found by search teams.
The jacket combines personal locator beacons attached in a side zip pocket and a strobe light attached to the back to increase the chances of a rescue at night. Unlike previously, both devices trigger automatically.
All the offshore workers in the Centrica Energy East Irish Sea are now using the system and the adapted Shark brand jacket is being offered to the offshore industry in general.
Mr Cochrane said up to £500,000 has been spent by Centrica on developing the new jacket and other safety improvements, while £2.5m extra has been spent on leasing new Dauphin 365 N3 helicopters.
He said: « I think the investment we have made and the work Sharon has completed sets out the level of safety equipment we can provide our people with when flying offshore. »
An inquest into the crash recorded a verdict of accidental death, but as Mr Smith’s body has never been found his death was excluded from the hearing.

The other victims of the crash were Robert Warburton, 60, of Heysham, Lancashire; Leslie Ahmed, 48, from South Shields; and John Shaw, 51, from Kirkcaldy, Fife. Another victim, and gas platform worker, Alfred Neasham, 57, was from Durham. Co-pilot Simon Foddering, 33, from Preston, and commander Stephen Potton, 52, from Blackpool, also died.

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