Sorry for your loss.
Looking at the "good" HTML sample, I will assume it's generated from a DITA task which has a <step> looking like this:
Code: Select all
<cmd>Take your time! Work comfortably and do not make shortcuts when cutting stems.
Use good quality, sharp tools.</cmd>
<stepxmp><xref href="http://www.google.com" format="html" scope="external"><image
You did not mention what DITA OT version you are using. I tested publishing to HTML5 and XHTML using the latest versions of DITA OT 3.x and 2.x and I got the "good" HTML generated. So I cannot reproduce your problem.