Company pleads guilty to two safety violations in diver's death

Luke Seabrook died two years ago after getting stuck underwater at a Nova Scotia Power tidal plant in Annapolis Royal, N.S.

Mother of diver says company's guilty plea will do nothing to improve safety

Commercial diver Luke Seabrook, 39, was sucked into an underwater opening and died on scene. (Seabrook family)

Paul's Diving Services Inc. has entered a guilty plea on two charges it was facing after the death of Luke Seabrook, but his mother says the plea will do nothing to improve safety for other commercial divers.

Seabrook died on July 15, 2015, after getting stuck underwater at the Nova Scotia Power tidal plant in Annapolis Royal, N.S., according to prosecutor Alex Keaveny.

The 39-year-old diver from Dartmouth was working to inspect the gates that control the flow of the Annapolis River tides.

This morning, the company entered a guilty plea on two of four charges in the Occupational Health and Safety Act

The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure a written dive plan was in place that met occupational diving regulations, and failing to ensure the dive was not conducted in hazardous water flow conditions. 

Mother of victim skeptical change will happen

Seabrook's mother, Angela Seabrook, said the admission of guilt "won't really do anything for the safety of the diving industry."

"It was fully expected. We all knew that things weren't done quite the way they should've been," she said from her home in Wasaga Beach, Ont.

Angela Seabrook is skeptical that the guilty plea will create positive change in the industry. (CBC)

Two other charges — failing to provide information, instruction, training and supervision to address water flow hazards and failing to ensure employees were made familiar with hazardous water pressure differential that may exist at the sluice gates — are expected to be dropped at sentencing.

Seabrook said she's disappointed the Labour Department decided to lay charges only against the diving company — "the little guy" — which she acknowledges should have completed water flow tests to determine whether there was a water pressure hazard.

'This will be the end of the story'

Keaveny said the sentence will likely come from a joint recommendation.

The company will be back in court on Oct. 26.

Luke Seabrook died on July 15, 2015, at the Nova Scotia Power tidal plant in Annapolis Royal. (Richard Cuthbertson/CBC)

Seabrook said she will likely prepare a victim impact statement but is skeptical of its potential effect.

"I don't know what good that's going to do."

With only a small diving company charged, she fears "this will be the end of the story and nothing ever done about it."

So, Seabrook is continuing to lobby Nova Scotia's medical examiner to hold an inquiry to determine why the accident took place, and make recommendations to improve safety regulations.

Story by Carolyn Ray and Elizabeth Chiu