Jennifer Deeney describes the effect her husband’s accidental death has had on her life.
My husband was working for a construction company. He was a steel fixer and had been working on a big project on a high-rise building in Canary Wharf. Someone at the site had taken a short cut and put a piece of plywood over a hole, that wasn't fit for purpose.
Kieron stepped on the board which gave way beneath him and fell 30ft. His head injuries were so severe that he died at the scene.
I had a phone call from Kieron's brother to say there had been an accident. I tried for over an hour and a half to get hold of his employer but I couldn't. Eventually the police rang and said we needed to go to the police station. I knew from the minute I got the phone call that he was dead. That was 12 years ago.
We had only been married for 13 weeks. We had everything and it was all gone. We were young and we were just starting out. Kieron was only 25, so I went from having everything to nothing.
We had been together for seven years and we were ready to start a family but everything changed in the blink of an eye. The next thing I knew I was planning his funeral. Everything had gone and I had nothing left. I was absolutely broken.
"I knew from the minute I got the phone call that he was dead."
Kieron didn't just die, a part of me died too. I became cold; I became hard because it was the only way I knew how to cope. I put on a brave face in front of everybody but behind closed doors I was shattered. I threw myself into work and worked all the hours God sends because I didn't know what to do with myself.
Kieron's death was classed as an unlawful killing. The inquest didn't go to court for five years because it kept being pushed back so for all that time I couldn't move on; there was always someone ringing and the police and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) knocking on the door.
I think all I was doing was breathing for years after Kieron's death. I didn't start living again until three and a half years ago. I suffered post traumatic stress disorder and it took me years of bereavement counselling and psychotherapy to deal with things. Who goes to work and doesn't come home? It shouldn't happen; there's no need for it to happen.
There's not a day that goes by when I don't think of Kieron. We would've been 12-years married on [May 8, 2016] and I have never celebrated a wedding anniversary and have never had a card saying "to my wife". These are the little things that other people don't think about.
The effects don't go away. I use the analogy of a broken glass, you try and put the pieces back but it's not the same.
The hard part is that accidents within the construction industry are two a penny. Kieron's death could have been avoided. People at the construction site saw that the board wasn't fitted properly and walked past it and did nothing. There was a method on how to cover a void and that process wasn't followed. It should not have been there but people chose to walk by and not to do anything about it.
We all need to realise why we go to work. For most people it's to look after their family and if you choose to take a short cut, not to follow a process or walk by something that you know isn't right then you are putting your own family at risk. You are not going to just destroy your own life but your family's and there's no short cut worth that. Everyone has to work safe so that they go home at the end of their shift.
Following Kieron's death, Jennifer has been campaigning for better site safety and gives motivational talks for corporate safety training. Click here for more information or to book Jennifer for a talk.
Posted: 6/6/2016 9:04:01 AM