‘He was the kind of dad everyone wanted, and I had’ – son of Sunderland engineer killed in dock accident

Stephen Summerside
Stephen Summerside
Have your say

The devastated family of an engineer who died while working on a car ferry have spoken of their grief and shock.

Father-of-two Stephen Summerside, from Roker, was servicing a lift on board the MV Ulysses while it was berthed at Queen Elizabeth Dock, in Falmouth, in Cornwall when the tragedy happened on Monday.

Stephen Summerside with his wife Donna.

Stephen Summerside with his wife Donna.

Although not confirmed yet, it is understood he died after getting trapped between the lift and the shaft. Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have visited the site as part of their inquiries.

Stephen, 44, who was affectionately known to many as ‘Summer’ was a well-loved family man and hugely popular in Roker, where he had lived all his life.

His devastated wife, Donna, 45, said her fun-loving husband was the life and soul of the party, and would do anything to help others.

“If he was coming to pick me up from work and saw someone he knew at the bus stop, he would always stop and give them a lift home first. He was loved by everyone.

Falmouth docks. Picture from Google Images.

Falmouth docks. Picture from Google Images.

“He was born in Roker and would never have moved anywhere else.”

Stephen was also a devoted dad of two sons, Shaun, 25, and Scott, 21, and two grandchildren, Mia, six, and one-year-old Beau.

Scott, who works for Greggs, said: “He just wanted to make everyone happy.”

He said his dad would always help others when they were in need, such as taking a washing machine home for a stranger when he saw he had been let down by a delivery driver outside a Wearside store, and organising a charity bike ride for a sick youngster.

Stephen, who went all over the country working as a lift engineer, was always game for a laugh ,including dressing up on days out and being the first to get his face painted at an event in The Howard Arms pub, where he socialised.

Heartbroken Scott, said: “He was the kind of dad that everybody wanted and I had.”

Scott said he and Shaun, who works for William Hill, are trying to stay strong to support their mum.

Donna, who recently celebrated her silver wedding with Stephen, said she couldn’t believe what was happening when Shaun and the police came to Barclays Bank in Chester Road, where she works, to break the news her husband had died.

Stephen also leaves his parents, Ethel and Sam and brother Keith.

Devon and Cornwall Police issued a statement saying: “Police and ambulance were called to Queen Elizabeth Dock, Falmouth, at 11.35am on Monday 11 January following concerns for a man aboard the Irish Ferries owned MV Ulysses.

“Officers located a man on board the ship who had sustained serious injuries. The man, in his 40s, was pronounced deceased at the scene.

“The death is being treated as unexplained at this time.

“The Health and Safety Executive has been informed.”

The 51,000-tonne Ulysses is in the dry dock for an annual refit.

A HSE spokesman said: “I can confirm that HSE is making inquiries and Inspectors attended the site yesterday. It is too early, however, to say that a formal investigation is underway.”