Heysham nuclear plant death verdict

Chris Cowan
Chris Cowan

FAMILY members and friends of a Heysham Power Station worker who died when he fell from a platform at work say his death has left “a huge void” in their lives.

Christopher John Cowan, 26, from Lancaster plunged to his death as he checked reactor valves at the power station.

At an inquest on Monday the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

The former Carnforth High School pupil and his supervisor Philip Casson were preparing to restart the reactor after a shut down but as they approached the D56 valve they discovered they could not reach it as an area of flooring had been removed, leaving a hole which had been cordoned off with barriers.

Speaking at the inquest at Preston Coroners Court, Mr Casson said he gestured to Mr Cowan that they would move on to the next valve.

But as he headed up the steps, he turned around and realised Mr Cowan was not following him. He returned to the area saw Mr Cowan was lying on the concrete floor approximately 30 feet below.

Mr Cowan, a former soldier who lived with his partner Lucy McCarthy at their home in Ingleborough Road, was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary where he was pronounced dead shortly before midnight on July 9 2010.

A post mortem examination concluded he died from a traumatic brain injury and skull fracture as a result of blunt head trauma.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) opened an investigation but could not establish how Mr Cowan came to fall through the platform.

Mr Cowan was a life-long Morecambe FC fan and a scoreboard was unveiled in his memory at the Globe Arena.

His mother Christine said: “Chris was a massive part of our family. He played a vital role as partner to Lucy, son to us, uncle nephew, grandson and loyal friend to many. He has left a huge void in all of our lives.

“He was a young man who loved and lived his life to the very full, 100 miles an hour, always in a rush wanting the next adventure to begin. He maybe knew something we did not.

“We must say a big thank you to the paramedics who tried to save his life on that dreadful night and also to EDF Energy and Chris’s friends and colleagues at the power station who have supported us over the past two years.

“Our lives have all been affected by this tragedy one way or another, but for all our sakes we were blessed to have had his company for the 26 years he was here with us.

“We miss him every day and always will.”