From:Ray LaTulippe <>
Date:Tue, 7 Jul 1998 00:55:43 EDT
Subject:Boynton Beach incident July 9th 1996

In a message dated 7/5/1998 11:38:19 AM Eastern Daylight Time,

> This is really too bad. I was really hoping we'd have a good example to talk
>  about for a while, instead of more of the same.
>  When I called a number of the Boynton beach dive people, I found some
>  reluctance to discuss particulars in this case.

I on the other hand have no problem in discussing the particulars of this dive
with anybody that cares to discuss it.

On June 9th 1996 around 12:30 Arielle and I descended to the deck (170') of
the SkyCliff. We were on air (okay no blasting that was then this is now...
back then it was common to teach Tech Nitrox with air dives to 180').  There
was 70' + visibility and minimal current.  We okayed and then entered one of
the hatches on the deck. We were moving along just fine with myself in the
lead and Arielle about 5-7' behind me. Suddenly I was flashed the emergency
signal that we use when cave diving, I turned and reached Arielle who was now
floating on the ceiling of the wreck with no mask on, her regulator out and
unconscious. A cable had become entangled on her isolator valve and in the
attempt to turn to remove it she somehow banged her head and was knocked
unconscious. I immediately placed her regulator in her mouth and while holding
it there made an exit of the wreck to a hatch on my right hand side. As soon
as we were out of the wreck I placed her against the bulkhead and tried to
keep her breathing.  At this point another diver Dave Rosenthal saw the
situation and attempted to place his backup mask on her face but had problems
doing so because she was in spasms.  Another diver Peter Schultz who was
teaching a tri-mix class came over and removed the cable that was still
wrapped around her manifold and then went back to his class.  In the meantime
I was attempting to work with Arielle and realized that she was drowning.
Continuing to hold the reg in her mouth I began to ascend using her wings.  We
started a very rapid ascent which I tried to control. At about 100' while
holding on to her and working the inflator I lost control of her reg. While
attempting to get the reg back in her mouth we fell back to 170'. Turning her
around I realized that she was basically drowned (it was just like the scene
from the movie "The  Abyss".)  It was then that I did an all out ascent with
her riding her to about 70' (Dave Rozenthal followed me up). At 70' I let her
go as I was having trouble keeping my lungs empty at the rate we were going
(later determined to be 156' per minute we were also beta testing the
Commander Nitrox at the time).  I followed her up and came underneath her and
saw the divemaster jump in and grab her.  Knowing that she was with the
support team I dropped and did a quick 5min deco with Dave Rosenthal standing
by the whole time.

At this time I ascending to the boat that was right over my head and while
climbing on board yelled at them because they were not performing CPR. The
divemaster then said that she was breathing on her own but still unconscious,
I then yelled for oxygen which they were not applying.  I was handed a DAN kit
and I attempted to work on her with that demand mask and soon realized that it
was getting me no-where. At this point I yelled for the AL 80 that was full of
oxygen and stuck the reg in her mouth and pinched her nose while holding the
purge button. After about a minute she came too so I cut off her wet suit.  At
this time the lifeguards showed up in their Zodiac and both her and I were
placed on oxygen and taken to shore.  She was flown via Trauma Hawk to St.
Mary's hospital and I was taken via ambulance. At the emergency room she was
treated for drowning and we were both given a chamber ride. My chest at this
time hurt (felt like I had broken ribs) which I assume was from the rapid
ascent I did to get her up.  We both spent the night in the hospital.  Lynn
Simmons (Capt. of the SplashDown) brought Arielle a change of her own clothes
and stayed most of the night at the hospital and then came back in the morning
to drive us home.  

Later when Peter Schultz was asked why he didn't assist further he made the
statement to both mine and Arielle's face that when he saw her after we had
dropped back to 170' that she basically looked dead to him.  He was not her
instructor on this dive nor her buddy but he was in a position to provide much
needed help had he chosen to do so.

Likely causes deemed to be excess narcosis leading to an over reaction on her
part when her manifold became entangled to the point that she may have
panicked and hit her head hard enough to be knocked unconscious (in fact she
had a large contusion over her right eye).  This is a guess as she only
remembers up to the point that her manifold became entangled.

Things to learn from this accident.

1. Don't dive deep on air.

2. When faced with a situation stay calm relax and solve the problem (don't

3. All divers in the vacinity should ensure that the diver in trouble reaches
the surface (none of us can breath water).

4. You must have a good support crew (boat or cave surface team).

5. Always apply oxygen immediately (don't rely on the DAN kit demand mask for
an unconscious diver). Have a scuba tank filled with oxygen with a great
working regulator attached.

6. Maintain a good fitness program.

7. Last but most important don't dive in the vacinity of divers who are
unwilling to help.

For the curious we are both very fit and actively exercise, the certifications
at the time of the accident were as follows.

Myself... I.A.N.T.D. Technical Divemaster, I.A.N.T.D. Technical Nitrox,
I.A.N.T.D. Full Cave, I.A.N.T.D. Deep Air, P.A.D.I. Rescue Diver.

Arielle... I.A.N.T.D. Technical Nitrox, I.A.N.T.D. Deep Air, P.A.D.I. Rescue
Diver, I.A.N.T.D. Overhead Environment. 

P.S. We were married on the aniversary of the accident on a beautiful mountain
in Colorado.  She loves cave diving but still gets uneasy on certain ocean

I hope this answers all your questions.  As to why you might have closed lips
from the Boynton area perhaps its because Peter Schultz almost exclusively
uses the Splashdown for his training dives.

Ray LaTulippe