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Perth storm death: Family say no-one to blame when power was cut to Conor Murphy's respirator

By National Reporting Team's Caitlyn Gribbin and Dale Owens, Wednesday July 16, 2014 - 00:00 EST
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Brendan (L), Lesley and Eamon Murphy say no-one is to blame for the incident. - ABC

The mother of a man who died when power was cut to his respirator during a Perth storm says no-one is to blame for the tragedy.

Conor Murphy and his housemate Kyle Scolari, both 25, died after a massive storm ripped through several Perth suburbs on Sunday night and caused widespread blackouts.

The men had Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a hereditary genetic disease which results in the progressive deterioration of muscle strength and function, and relied on electronic respirators to breathe.

The friends lived together in their Beaconsfield home and had full-time care.

Western Australian Police have confirmed there will be a coronial investigation.

Conor's mother Lesley Murphy said the house was equipped with a back-up generator and alarms designed to be activated if power was cut to the respirators.

She said she checked on the men about 7:00am.

"I just know that I woke up, I realised the power was off, I went over to check on the guys, and clearly all of the systems we had put into place for those sorts of incidences hadn't kicked in, hadn't worked," she said.

"All of that required us to get there and be there, unfortunately the nature of that storm yesterday, it was just an act of God really ... no-one could have done better."

'No-one could've seen storm coming', brother says

Conor's brother Eamon Murphy said it was not the first time the power had gone out, but previously the back-up systems had worked.

"We had the power out nearly three weeks ago and we got through it fine, there was no hiccups, nothing. We were prepared for it, it was just an unfortunate event on Monday morning," he said.

"The limited warning that we had, that [the storm] was going to come ... no-one could have seen those tornadoes coming.

"Normally we would have known of the forecast and really been prepared and ready. Dad brought more fuel over for the generator over on Sunday.

"We have to fire up the generator ourselves. It was 7:30 in the morning, no-one was ready for it, we didn't know there was a storm coming."

Mrs Murphy said there was always a carer with the men, but the accident was nobody's fault.

"There is always a number of staff on duty, but this is not about negligence or blame, we don't want any of that at all," she said.

"It was a terrible unfortunate accident and we would like them to be remembered for who they were and not the circumstances of their death.

"I slept through the storm and I live over the road. We could have been here ourselves and this could have happened, it's just really, really sad."

Eamon Murphy agreed no-one was to blame.

"The support worker that was there on Sunday night is by far and away one of the best support workers that those boys have, and I would feel more comfortable with him looking after them than anyone else I've ever met," he said.

"The circumstances around this are just unlucky. It's just a sad event, there's no blame that we'd like to place on any of the support workers or anyone."

Mrs Murphy said the event was unpredictable.

"A lot of people could have been killed in that storm on Monday morning, it's just unfortunate that our two guys bore the brunt of it," she said.

"They were just peacefully asleep in their beds and to be honest, we couldn't have wished for a better passing for Conor, I can't speak for Kyle's family.

"We always knew that Conor wasn't going to be with us for a long time, so we're just very grateful that in the end he had a peaceful passing and we just want to value his life ... his contribution to the nation, to electric wheelchair sport."

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© ABC 2014

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