|New!||Barbara Wescott Pontliana, Janet Arnold, and Nigel Andrade diving to 283 fsw, due to poor navigation to dive site.|
Four causes are sufficient to explain the overwhelming majority of technical accidents: lack of buoyancy control; improper gas; diver unpreparedness; and the Buddy Inspiration rebreather.
Tony was a New York technical diver, trimix certified and very experienced.
On the ride out to a North Carolina wreck in 135fsw, he put his gear together,charged his regulators, and then turned his tanks back off.
When they anchored the wreck he put his steel doubles on, clippedan aluminum 80 to his side,put his weight belt on over his dive skin, andput thecrotch strap on over his weight belt.This was his first dive of theyear without a drysuit.
He jumped over the side without turning his tanks on, and with his inflator hosenot attached. He sank like a stone.
He was found on the bottom with 4000 psi in every tank, and all tanks turnedoff.
He was that kind of guy. I actually had known him for a lot lessyears than people from Brooklyn who grew up with him - but they will alltell you the same thing anyway.
As best I can tell, Harvey went in one day on his favorite wreck (the Oregon), with his nitrox in his doubles turned off, and his deco nitrox in his pony turned on.
Henry Kendall, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and pioneer of theenvironmental movement among scientists, died inFlorida on Monday the 15thof February 1999 while exploring the nature he fought to preserve.
Kendall, 72, was taking photographs on a rebreather dive with theNational Geographic Society at the Wakulla SpringsState Park in Florida whenfellow divers found him lying unconscious on the bottom in shallow water,said Capt. GeneMcCarthy of the Wakulla County Sheriff's Department.
"He was flown by life flight to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead," McCarthy said.
Kendall, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shared the 1990 Nobel Prize for Physics with JeromeFriedman and Richard Taylor. The three were the first to observe traces of quarks, sub-atomic particles thought to form the basis of 99 percent of all matter.
The cause of death was not known and an autopsy was scheduled forTuesday morning, McCarthy said.
Kendall was a founding member, and chairman since 1973, of the Union of Concerned Scientists. The group advocates agreater emphasis on applying scientific research to environmental and social problems and has campaigned widely onissues ranging from global warming to nuclear safety.
In 1992, Kendall wrote and spearheaded the World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, in which some 1,700 of the world'sleading researchers appealed for an end to the destruction of the Earth's natural resources.
"Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course," he wrote in the document. "If not checked, many ofour current practices putat serious risk the future that we wish for human society ... and may soalterthe living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the mannerthat weknow."
Kendall earned a Ph.D. in nuclear and atomic physics from MIT in 1954. He taught at Stanford University from 1956 to1961 before returning to MIT.
He wrote numerous books, including "The Fallacy of Star Wars," Beyond
the Freeze: The Road to Nuclear Sanity," and"Energy Strategies: Toward aSolar
Dr. Kendall, 72, was taking underwater photographs byhimself in about eight to 10 feet of water on the afternoon of Monday February 15th 1999,during the Wakulla 2 Expedition of the US Deep Caving Team, Inc.
He was using a Cis-Lunar Mk-5 rebreather, and was found floating in shallow water.
He had his gas block selected to offboard oxygen, but no offboardoxygen cylinder was in use.(This is generally only used for extended divesrequiring long decompression.)This lead to death by hypoxia.
The lesson to be learned from this is that we are human,and even a Nobel prize-winner can make an "idiotic" mistake.
The Wakulla County Sherrif's Department managed to muddy the waters significantly withtheir assertion that this was a death by natural causes, that could have happened in a Wal-Mart.I believe that this was due to their understandable unfamiliarity with hypoxia as a cause of death,and with rebreathers in general.
The Coroner insisted on a review by the Navy folks at Panama City,
and has now issuedan amended death certificate showing cause of death ashypoxia
instead of natural causes.
The five fatal incidents have occurred at different stages of thedive. One onthe bottom, one on the ascent and two on the descent, one unclear.
The statements regarding down-currents and short training courses are disputed.
The down currents apparently occur when the tide is running, which can be up to 4 knots across the top of the wreck. There is no down-draught at slack water, which is when they dived it.
The latest piece of information to be revealed was that he was diving with no open-circuit bail out fitted. During the course he had one fittedbut didn't want to buy one from the Instructor as he had plenty athome. Heordered a combined BC inflator/regulator from the instructor. TheInstructorassumed that in the meantime the diver would fit one of his own2nd stages.Apparently he didn't.
Hopefully, his equipment will be recovered soon and information gleaned to piecetogether the bits of information so far revealed.
Keith Milburn, age 44, from County Down in Northern Ireland, was diving with five friends whenhe went missing.
Keith was trained in the UK by Dave Thompson some time in December or January 1998.He purchased his unit in early January, he was one of the firstpeople to own an inspiration in northern Ireland.He was a very active diver, and it is believed that he would have made two or three dives a week until his death.
He had finished his dive and was about to get back in the boat when someone dropped something in the water.One can assume that he was in the process of turning the unit's cylinders off at this point.In an effort to retrieve the dropped item he commenced a dive for it.He did not return to the surface, and his body was recovered some time later.
On examination it was discovered that the oxygen cylinder in his unit was turned off. He apparently was trying to conduct an open circuit bail-out on his oxygen, but this wouldnot have worked because the O2 tank was turned off.
This 2nd dive was apparently to a depth of 4m (12fsw).
Before choosing an O2 OC bail-out, He should have tried first an OC bail-out on his diluent, via his apparently still functionalAuto Air.
Why he chose the O2 reg instead of the Auto Air, we may never know.
An inquest has been completed. The coroner, Mr. John Leckey, stated in closing "Keith Milburn wasfound dead on 13th September 1998 near Cloughan Head, Ardglass (Northern Ireland). The cause ofdeath was salt water drowning and my verdict is that of accidental drowning. Examination of his divingequipment revealed nothing to account for his death. I am satisfied that the deathwas accidental."
Reported on techdiver. The following is from the Maritime andCoastguard Agency web site
DIVING FATALITY OFF PORTLAND
Portland Coastguard were this afternoon alerted to an incident involving a diver in difficulty off Portland.
The Coastguard received a call on Channel 16 at 1530 hours from the sport diving vessel "DIVETIME", who reported that a member of theirdiving party had surfaced and appeared to be in an unconscious state.
Portland Coastguard immediately tasked the Coastguard RescueHelicopter, Whisky Bravo, to the scene, some 15 miles to the southeast of Portland. Poole Coastguard Rescue Team were also tasked to attend the helicopter landing site. The helicopter arrived at 1547hours and the casualty was winched aboard and transferred to Poole General Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.
The weather on scene was good with light winds, good visibility andonly a slight sea swell.
Harry Leslie, Watch Manager, Portland Coastguard said:
"At this stage it is not know what happened but it appears that thediver surfaced in some difficulty whilst the other members of thediveteam remained below the surface. The skipper of the dive vesselcontactedthe Coastguard very swiftly and the rescue helicopterarrived on scene withina matter ofminutes. Our sympathies go out tothe family and friends of thediver."
"It has been stated in a local paper that the casualty is Harry Norman Railing, who was known to be a very experienced diver, trimixcertified who got his Inspiration training last Easter. His aim was to divea 54 meter deep wreck with the Inspiration. Not much of the cause is knownor made public. It was merely stated that the unit 'broke down' on ascent,but this has not been confirmed. Needless to say all this is hearsay andconjecture and pending the official enquiry must be treated as such."
The diver was Harry Railing - a very experienced mix diver. Harry wastrying to build his own RB but gave up due to a number of problems and bought an Inspiration at Easter. He did many shallow dives with the unit inorder to build his experience and this was his first deep dive using it. The wreck was the Warrior II - lying in about 54m of water SSE of Portland Bill on the South Coast UK. Conditions were good and there were a number ofother divers on the boat that day. Harry was diving alone and (I think) wasthe last to enter the water. About 4-5 mins after descending, he reappeared on the surface "all blown up" according to the skipper - I assume he meant wing, suit and counter-lungs full to capacity. I do not know if Harry was conscious, unconscious or dead when he reached the surface but wasunconscious when the boat reached him.
The skipper immediately called the coastguard and motored over to Harry. Asthere was no-one else on the boat, he had to haul Harry outhimself. Bythen the helicoptor had arrived and Harry was winched aboardfor transportto Poole general hospital. Harry was pronounced dead on arrival. Hisequpment was examined afterwards and it was found that his Argonbottlewas empty. He had been complaining of a sticky suit inflator priorto thedive.
The post-mortem took place and burst lung was recorded as thecause of death. Speculation is that his suit inflate jammed open and causeda rocket ascent to the surface.Off the record - Harry is not the type of person to ignore problems like asticky inflator and would have disconnected the hose in the event of aproblem - or just opened his neck seal to get the gas out if he needed toget rid of it fast. After 6 years of serious mix diving,he was not arelative novice to this kind of thing. I suspect that something distractedhim from taking the appropriate actions.
I forgot to mention that Harry had been using an air diluent in his unit.As I understand it, you are required to do a set number of dives using anair diluent before they allow you to do the next level up at which point youcan use mix or heliox as a diluent.
See also the summary of the inquest, which returned an open verdict.
Diving a wreck at a depth of 27 meters, situated north of Schiermonnikoog, with visibilitya mere 1.5 to 2 meters. He never made contact with his buddy after jumping in.Body recovered two weeks later, about 1000 ft (300 meters) from wreck. Cause of the accident unknown.
Whether the fault is in the unit; or in the completely inadequate training schedule heavily modified by Dave Thomson from the original IANTD schedule, by deleting the semi-closed material (vetted by the manufacturer and IANTD); or in the concept of an all electronic CCR being used in this kind of diving, one thing is clear:
To their credit, AP Valves (the manufacturer) have displayed a great deal of concern about these problems. Due to their observation that the incidents are all happening with experienced open circuit divers, who have less than twenty dives, they are offering extra "top-up" factory training (free of charge) to all owners. All owners that collected directly from the factory have already received this.
If the problem is in fact training, (the victims were confident and experienced open circuit divers, but novice or at least less experienced closed circuit divers) then a very aggressive training and retraining program may be the answer.
Death of diver prompts breathing gearalert.
by Lisa Thomlinson
Keith Milburn, 44, a business consultant from Carryduff in Belfast, hadbeen diving for edible crabs with five others from a boat off Cloghan Head,near Ardglass, Co Down. He completed his dive safely but returned to thewater to retrieve a piece of equipment and failed to resurface at 7:30pm onSaturday. His body was found near the diving site at noon yesterday.
Mr. Milburn is thought to have died of oxygen poisoning. He was usingbreathing apparatus that has only been on the market a year, and is amodern version of equipment developed by the military during the SecondWorld War. It works by re-oxygenating exhaled air by filtering it througha series of chemicals, to be re-breathed by the diver.
Ian Murdock, watch manager at Belfast MarineRescue Subcentre, said: "Itis not safe. Four people have died now and thousands of these diving sethave apparently been sold. One death is too many, but four from the samesystem is not acceptable. This needs to be looked into urgently. Diversusing the equipment are either not heeding the warningsor they are notusing the system properly."
The system, which costs about (pounds)3,000 compared with a few hundredpounds for normal breathing apparatus, has proved popular for underwaterphotography because it does not generate bubbles. During the war itenabled divers to sneak unseen into enemy harbours. It also allows diversto stay under water for up to 12 hours.
David vincent, the owner of DV Diving in Bangor, Co Down, said he maystop selling the re-breather gear after the most recent death. He saidthat he had taught the new system to a diver, Nick Gotto,who died whileusing it off Cork last month.
Compare the coverage in DeepTech magazine with John Bantin's article in Diver magazine (no longer on line).
Recently I attempted to summarize what happened, hoping to synthesize a consensus. I got roundly flamed, including by one individual who repeatedly and publicly insisted that she had suffered from shallow water blackout!
As things stand, I do not believe that we can ever expect to learn the truth - the matter will most likely remain in the hands of the lawyers, until eventually there is a settlement, that will most likely include court sealing of all records.