Mytholmroyd Net

Grief of family of Stephen Grady

Halifax Courier 3rd April 2006

Grief of family who knew son was on the disaster cruise.

A GRIEVING Calderdale mum has spoken of her shock after her son perished in the Persian Gulf pleasure boat disaster.

Christine Grady watched in disbelief as news emerged on TV of the tragedy off the coast of Bahrain - knowing her eldest son Stephen was on board the ship.

The 42-year-old former painter and decorator had been in the Arabian island state for just three weeks when he joined a dinner party for fellow construction bosses on the cruiser al-Dana.

But the celebrations to mark the completion of an important phase of the massive new Bahrain World Trade Centre ended in disaster as the overcrowded boat capsized with more than 100 people on board less than half a mile from the shore.

At least 58 people died, 12 of them Britons, including Stephen and fellow Yorkshireman Carl Ottewell, believed to be from Bolton on Dearne.

Mrs Grady, of Elphaborough Close, Mytholmroyd, told of her family's torment as they watched TV for survivors.

She said: "My husband Bob heard the news and came home from work and put the TV on. "We knew Stephen was on board because he had been in touch a week earlier to say he was going on the boat. "We were watching as people were rescued, hoping we could see him. He was such a strong lad, a really good swimmer. We could not believe it was happening. "We can only think he was trapped when the boat capsized, trapped with all his friends on board. "I had not wanted him to go out there but he rang me last Tuesday and sounded so happy. He loved his job. "

Mrs Grady said Stephen's pregnant wife Stephanie and their two-year-old son Billy, of Hebden Bridge, were inconsolable.

Stephanie learned of her husband's death on Friday night when she was contacted by London representatives of his company, South African-based Murray and Roberts.

The family had planned to settle in Bahrain where Stephen was working on the twin towers trade centre as a project finisher manager. His 30-year-old wife had recently returned to the UK with happy family snaps of the keen soccer supporter and Billy proudly sporting their matching Manchester City football shirts. She is expecting their second child in July.

"These are the last photos I have of him," said Mrs Grady. "We are completely gutted."

Today a prosecutor probing the disaster said survivors had told how the captain made a turn that was "too tight".

He said: "Many people mention that the ship was not stable before they left harbour. "When they moved it was shaking and the turn from the captain to the left was, they said, too tight." Passengers were said to have moved to one side of the boat, which then capsized.

And it emerged that the Arab dhow only had a permit as a floating restaurant, not as a cruise vessel. The captain is under arrest.

Brian Bruce, chief executive of Murray and Roberts, offered his condolences to Mr Grady's family and to those of all other workers who died.

Many of the passengers worked for the construction company which had chartered the boat. Others were engineers from other companies involved in the work, together with their wives and partners.

Speaking to the Courier from the company's Johannesburg headquarters, he said bosses had had the difficult task of contacting all relatives involved, including Mr Grady's in Yorkshire. He said: "Mr Grady was a building finishes manager and a relatively new employee to the project. He had only joined within the last month.

"We had the awful job of contacting the families and those of survivors. Our condolences go out to them all."

Mr Bruce said Mr Grady had been one of a team of specialists in the construction of the Bahrain World Trade Centre. He had been in charge of finishing the scheme after the twin towers were erected including cladding and electrification.

He said the dinner party had been to mark the conclusion of a key stage of the building and the company was conducting its own inquiry. "We lost 10 employees from around the world and the project itself lost more than 50 key staff. Our job now is to find out what happened and offer what support we can to help people get through this," he said. "We will offer trauma counselling to families and survivors - and try to deal with post-traumatic stress. "We are also very grateful to the various international governments and the Foreign Office which has already mobilised support teams to Bahrain."

03 April 2006