Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Bomb death 'was not preventable'

Nothing could have prevented the death of Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, a coroner has ruled

Nothing in the Army operation which led to the death of a bomb disposal hero could have prevented his "catastrophic injuries" in Afghanistan, a coroner has recorded.

Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid was hailed as the bravest of the brave after disarming 64 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during a single tour of duty in Helmand Province.

Cornwall coroner Emma Carlyon heard that the 30-year-old had been "impatient" and "not his usual jovial self" before he died.

But she accepted evidence that neither he nor his comrades could have done anything to prevent the blast that killed him.

Delivering a narrative verdict, she told Truro Coroner's Court: "There was nothing in the operation which fell below what might have been expected and that could have contributed to his death."

S/Sgt Schmid was posthumously awarded the George Cross for disarming 64 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in five months. But he triggered a new type of Taliban pressure plate before Army chiefs had been able to develop equipment to detect the device, it was revealed.

S/Sgt Schmid was hailed as an "inspiration" and a "giant of a man" during two days of evidence. But it was also revealed that he had been in a rush to get his job done after a poignant phone call with his stepson the day before.

Several comrades told how he was "impatient" and "frustrated" after his five-year-old stepson Laird told him: "Daddy, time to come home."

Colonel Bob Seddon, Britain's top bomb disposal officer who resigned last year, told how in the month after S/Sgt Schmid's death in October 2009, the Army had 50% of its desired level of improvised explosive device (IED) specialists.

He also said it was a "constant battle" to keep up with new IEDs developed by the Taliban.

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