Coroner sounds warning after Chesterfield woman dies on Maldives diving holiday

Chesterfield coroners' court.
Chesterfield coroners' court.
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A coroner has warned tourists to be aware of potentially life-threatening problems while abroad after the death of a holidaymaker.

Melanie Stoddart, 38, died of decompression sickness in the early hours of April 4, 2012, after diving in the Maldives.

Melanie Stoddart

Melanie Stoddart

An inquest held at Chesterfield coroners’ court on Tuesday heard there was a delay in Ms Stoddart receiving medical help because of a lack of appropriate transport.

And upon arrival at hospital, medics did not deem her to be suitable for treatment in a recompression chamber, the court was told.

Family paid tribute to chartered chemist Ms Stoddart – and said her death could have been avoided.

Ms Stoddart, who lived in Chesterfield for 21 years, was diving in Vaavu Atoll at about 3.10pm on the third day of her organised holiday on April 3, 2012.

The court heard she returned to the surface after about 30 minutes and asked for medical help as she was feeling unwell.

Coroner Paul McCandless said: “There was a delay in obtaining appropriate medical treatment for Ms Stoddart due to a lack of sea planes and sea boats at the time she became unwell.

“Once she was in an appropriate facility with a recompression chamber, the relevant doctor was of the view that her situation wasn’t diving-related and she wasn’t suitable enough to go in the recompression chamber.”

Ms Stoddart, who spent the last 17 years of her life living in Prestwich, Manchester, died in hospital at about 3am.

Her father Peter Stoddart, of Churchland Avenue, Holmewood, told the court: “There should be more safety measures in place – including readily-available sea planes and sea boats – in areas like this. It’s not going to help us but it may save someone else.”

He said his “wonderful, loving” daughter was an experienced diver and had travelled the world.

Recording a narrative verdict, Mr McCandless said: “Holidaymakers need to be aware of what emergency procedures are in place should any particular difficulties arise.”