Westgate Family Statement
After the Inquest Verdict of the death of Richard Westgate
Read by Judy Westgate (76 years old), Richard’s mother.
Richard Westgate loved life and had so much to live for.
He found his calling as a pilot, both in paragliding and flying passenger jets – Something he considered a privilege.
A few years ago he started to get sick but his symptoms baffled doctors, either they didn’t know what was wrong or they chose not to help. The result was they all turned him away.
His sickness turned to excruciating pain – and still he felt the doctors betrayed him.
When Richard died 4 years ago, Coroner Sheriff Payne believed there could be a problem with poisons in cabin air of the aircraft Richard flew and started the Inquest accordingly.
To our dismay however, the Coroner was suddenly switched last year and the new Coroner instructed that Aerotoxic syndrome would not be discussed as “a proper issue” in relation to Richard’s cause of death.
The Inquest has ruled that he ultimately died of an accidental overdose of a sedative – a sleeping tablet, but the real questions are:
• what made him so sick in the first place?
• And do the Airline Industry have something to hide?
My son suffered so much, and our only peace of mind is to believe it was not all in vain, as his body has revealed some vital clues to help find the truth.
The results of Richard’s post mortem showed he had damage to his nervous systems and heart. The Organo-phosphate toxins in cabin air have been shown to cause this kind of damage leading to many of the same symptoms and pain that my son experienced.
The court also heard that repeated doses of poison can also cause nerve damage, at exposure levels previously thought safe to humans.
Medical experts have said that Organo-phosphate cannot be ruled out in causing his condition, so the questions therefore remain?
Further discussion and questions about this was not allowed by the Coroner.
We know there are more sick passengers and crew, and we hope today will encourage the millions who fly, to ask questions to ensure more is done to make sure others don’t suffer like my Son.
We would like to thank Richard’s friends and work colleagues for the messages of support and stories of his life. He was a wonderful son, friend, brother, uncle and God Father who just happened to be susceptible to breathing toxic air.
One day the truth will out.
Answers to Questions, by Judy Westgate
On the steps of the Coroners Court Salisbury
The last few years has had quite a toll on the family.
We shared Richard’s frustration of not being diagnosed? It is very distressing to see your child in such pain, knowing there is nothing you can do to help.
Since his death, we have been waiting for this inquest, but as you have heard already, the inquest did not include any discussion of what made him sick in the first place.
It is so frustrating to see the industry can deny all responsibility when they could make such a difference.
This case has not really brought us the answers and closure we wanted
We are grateful to learn that Richard simply took an accidental overdose, but we are frustrated that the underlying causes of his illness have been sidelined by the coroner.
We have a message to the airline industry.
The airlines cannot categorically say that air in these aircraft is safe.
They refuse to monitor and test for toxins, so of course they have no evidence because they will not look for it!
The longer they deny there is a problem, the harder and more costly its going to be when they are proved wrong.
Just like the tobacco industry in the fifties refusing to admit smoking causes cancer, the airline industry has its head in the sand.
The inconvenient truth for the Airlines is that low doses of toxins in cabin air, over hundreds of hours can hurt some people.
The airline industry should be ashamed of itself. My Son suffered so much unnecessarily, and they have done nothing to protect people.
The longer you leave it, the harder its going to be, so we just expect those responsible do the right thing.