YD Scuba Diving Forums banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Part of the 'Phoenix Programme'
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Imported post

Dear all.

I am looking for some input here. In another thread Michael let you know that a good friend and good diver died in a diving accident last sunday. As mutual friends began to email me with details, certain things seem to not add up. I would like the opinion of experienced divers here so that I can make thinks add for myself, as it is difficult to come to terms with these loose threads.

The local police, after a few hours, decided on suicide. The coroner's report was death by drowning.

Peter was in a group of 4 divers, doing the ITD Deep Air Course. He had a twin 10 and a 10 stage, all containing air. Upon recovery of his body, the stage was full, the twin contained 140 bar, consistent with the dive profile.

The facts as reported: the group lost Peter during the ascent (vis 2-4m), as he ostensibly swam toward the wall in order to ascend with a reference point. One of the divers first said that he swam for the wall in the company of another diver, later said that he went alone. The ascent was initiated at 50m.

On ascent, Peter was no longer around.

Purportedly, the course intructor went in again after 70 minutes, found Peter (his torch was still glowing) but was unable to raise him.

A day later, the course instructor went back in and raised him. According to his statement, both of Peter's inflator hoses were unattached, there was not a bit of air in Peter's drysuit (trilaminate) or jacket.

I know that many forms of misadventure can occur underwater, but something jars badly here: the course instructor went in A DAY LATER, without support from the local rescue divers (who, incidentally, are stationed about 500 meters away).

According to the surviving divers, all three were narced so badly that they are unable to remember anything except that Peter swam away from them. I find collective amnesia an interesting phenomenon.

The local police returned the dive computers to the three divers within hours. One diver thereupon immediately went to the airport and flew to Bali (a planned trip, mind you, not jumping off).

The examination of Peter's equipment revealed no anomalies, and he had been ice diving two weeks before with no problems (no icing up of reg or hoses).

The coroner's examination revealed nothing such as heart attack etc.

Peter's attorney refused to accept the suicide theory (as do all who know him) and has lodged an accusation of manslaughter.

Any opinions on this? Michael and I are pretty lost here because so much does not rhyme, especially the lack of official police divers to recover the body. The instructor (apparently) recovered the body SOLO. This is not normal procedure.

I am making no accusations here, or finding fault: one must assume that it was a stupid and senseless accident. But why then are the parties involved unable to agree from one day to the next on the details, and why the lack of police support?

Any ideas will be appreciated!

moray
 

·
TDI Instructor Trainer
Joined
·
2,949 Posts
Imported post

Moray, I sympathise with your loss and all my condolences go to you and peter's family.

I don't feel comfortable commenting on situations such as these. I don't know all the facts and anything I said would be pure speculation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,914 Posts
Imported post

I wouldn't normally have commented but as you've specifically asked, I have to say it doesn't seem to add up to me either.

Swimming to the wall, fair enough assuming he indicated this with signals but 2-4 metre viz should be enough to stick with your buddy. Collective amnesia (assuming they're on air not trimix) due to narcosis, that seems understandable to me too.

Two disconnected direct feeds and no air in either jacket or suit?  Now that really does smell fishy. Diver finds a body and is unable to recover the diver, why
how come
And this guy is some kind of  "deep course" Instructor ? This is a bit too hard to believe , especially as he could raise him the next day. Was he supposed to be entangled in rope or something?

Why didn't police divers attempt a search and recovery?

I'd go along with the Attorney and assume some kind of foul play, I'd certainly not be satisfied with a verdict of suicide if this was a friend of mine.

Regards
Steve
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,736 Posts
Imported post

<font color='#32CD32'>HI,

I agree totally with Mark, but with one addition, I'm not all all suprised at the differing accounts - breathing air at 50m I'd expect even a very close buddy pair to give differing accounts of the dive.

My sympathies.

Juz
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,314 Posts
Imported post

[b said:
Quote[/b] (moray @ April 01 2004,15:23)]Purportedly, the course intructor went in again after 70 minutes, found Peter (his torch was still glowing) but was unable to raise him.
Why?
Edit: I hadn't read the other posts when I posted but see Steve asked the same question.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,844 Posts
Imported post

I would say the police not doing anything was because of the depth. They knew where he was and were "probably" waiting on an ROV. Certainly the UK police divers are only allowed to 30mtrs. I suspect the Germans are pretty much the same! As for the rescue divers I can only say they are maybe under the same constraints, unlike the diver who did recover him.
Pure speculation I know, but it would make sense.

As for the initial cause of the loss, who knows untill more facts come out.

Peter
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,839 Posts
Imported post

[b said:
Quote[/b] ]Diver finds a body and is unable to recover the diver, why
Well, the fact he was narked from being on air and the diver had no working inflate controls might have done it..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,914 Posts
Imported post

Which for me only serves to further question his suitability to be teaching other divers how to conduct deep air dives.
 

·
Just not enough dive time.
Joined
·
9,135 Posts
Imported post

Moray as said previously it is a terrible shame you have lost a friend and it is understandable that you are trying to make sense of it all.
I also understand that the UK police arent certified to dive that deep so German police as Peter said are probably similarly restricted hence the delay, however I do think it wrong that having found the body previously the other divers did not leave well alone as evidence may have been disturbed. I suppose the 'rescue' diver felt he was doing the right thing in recovering him.
It would seem to me that the Police have been somewhat hasty in reaching a decision without supporting evidence of suicide, such as depression, a note or money problems, I assume none of this exists?

As to the actual cause of death, it may be that your friend was overweighted or at least not neutral and required some bouyancy in the suit or jacket, perhaps the feed failed for some reason and he attempted to swap the other one over.
Were any of the valves close on his 10's for instance to indicate a free flow, out of sight of the others?

I would assume that he went to the wall as he felt narked and anxious and wanted a point of reference so as to reassure himself, a common practice I believe. It may have been at this point he had an equipment problem that later cleared and therefore provides no evidence of same.

I seem to recall threads where equipment fails but upon surfacing no evidence can be found, as the regs warm up and melt away any ice etc. perhaps something similar occured here.

I think something may have gone wrong and a tragic  accident happened rather than suicide.

Matt
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
616 Posts
Imported post

<font color='#0000FF'>moray,
the emotions would be running high at present and the first reaction is to blame somebody for the death of a friend.
even at this difficult time it would be prudent to gather all the facts and reports before speculating on what caused the death,if a solicitor is involved he should be in possesion of all the information that has been collected.

condolence.
barrie
 

·
Part of the 'Phoenix Programme'
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Imported post

Thank you all for your replies and your concern.

I agree that it is pure speculation at this point. I am simply very confused about these few points that I mentioned, and am looking for ideas which might help clear up that confusion. Where was his buddy? Why was his buddy not with him when he swam for the wall. That Peter would swim for the wall is consistent with my knowledge of him, he would use a reference if available.

It is often impossible to reconstruct EXACTLY what happened, but a general idea would be nice.

I will note that Peter was experienced under
conditions of cold, deep and almost 0 vis, having done about 90% of his 480+ dives in similar conditions. I realise however that it still possible for ANYONE to panic, irregardless of their level of experience.

Suicide is completely ridiculous, there was no apparent reason, that even his mother or his very best friends (myself among them!) could figure out. Peter was planning to come down to TF again this summer, was actually interested in buying into my dive center. He also had a ITD trimix course booked. He had no women problems, and no money probs out of the ordinary. The only possibility was that his divorce was coming up on Monday (and now his funeral, tragically), but he was delighted that it was finally coming to an end!

I do feel that a deep dive instructor should perhaps have his chicks under better control. I am NOT however placing any blame. I am assuming some error, on one or more person's part, including Peter himself! but in the end, it should add up. Ultimately though, dive instructors are also human and not immune to error.

His equipment was examined by the police, and no malfunction could be found. As for icing up, that is a valid point, although Peter had been ice diving the week before with the same jacket and suit and had had no problems. Of course, that is no guarantee to never have problems. The contents of his tanks (full stage, 140 bar on the twins was consistent with the dive profile, so a free flow is not indicated.

The rescue divers are not limited to 30m in Germany as far as I know. In Lake Constance unfortunate divers are hauled up from depths of 100m and greater.

Well, I am waiting for more facts to surface so that we can all finally deal with the grief at losing a good friend.

Thanks again.

moray
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,240 Posts
Imported post

Hey Moray,

My sincere condolenses on yours and Michael's tragic loss.

The 'collective amnesia' bit would be an unreliable place to seek rationale or reason: three divers narked out of their collective suedes (no surprise there, 50 metres down on a Deep Air course, this is bound to be the case to some/a varying degree) are not where you're gonna get anything like a consistent story; as you know, narcosis affects people in different ways and to varying degrees, given the individual; so asking the same question to each, and, more like as not, you'll get three very different stories as each of them will have a possibly 'clouded' view due to them having been battling their own individual narked-induced demons at the time.

I can understand Peter's reported 'scrabble for the wall'; years ago, I once went over a wall in the Red Sea and found the abyss staring back at me; I was on air and had to try desperately to try and get my shit together, otherwise I was going topside in short order - like you say, getting eyes-on a point of reference (i.e. the Wall, in Peter's case) would have been the ref point he sought in order to try and attempt to get his act together as, at that depth, there was no way he could ascend to the surface (a course of action he will have been fighting against) as potential panic took over; he will have been aware of that, and the 'fight'-or-flight' feelings he will have been battling with must have been tremendous - I know, as I say, I suffered a very similar event years back.

I can't, and won't, speculate on the detached hoses on Peter's rig - that way madness lies and there be dragons; although I find it strange that the local resue/police divers were not involved in any attempted rescue (do they have a 30 metre max op depth, like the UK?)

The course instructor not being able to surface with Peter on the first attempt also raised questions. Might there have been an opportunity to reattach Peter's dry-bag inflator hose (or use his own?), fill his suit and simply send him topside? From 50 metres, it wouldn't have take much air (what with 'full stage and 140 bar in his rig') in the suit to achieve this - even with twins rig and stage (which could have been ditched before putting air in Peter's suit) - although Peter would have arrived at the surface like a balloon, although, after 70 minutes in the oggin, there was little if no chance of him being alive, so 'surfacing' him would have not have drawn any concerns vis-a-vis his health/embolism/bends etc.

I do hope you find some comfort in any of the scribings here; I also hope that you get a more comprehensive report and explanation from the appropriate authorities in Germany.

Good luck.

Regards,
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,314 Posts
Imported post

Two other points:
1) The rescue divers here in Sweden are limited to 30 m, too, so it's quite possible, indeed probable, that that applies in Germany as well.
2) If I wanted to commit suicide, diving to 50 m and disconnecting my inflator hoses would not be the first way that came into my head. Taking an overdose, for example, must surely be a much more pleasant way of ending it all?
Sadly, I doubt if you'll ever know the truth in this tragic case.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,363 Posts
Imported post

<font color='#000080'>Condolences. It is always such a shame when we lose someone close to us, especially divers IMO.

I don't understand how he died, if he had air in his cylinders, unless he couldn't get to a reg? If the inflator hoses were detatched, who knows why, he would still have been able to breathe. Possible stuck inflators etc? It's the only reason I'd disconnect an inflator that I can think of. Then again, you would expect him to be coming up a a result of this, who knows.

I would say that often people you wouldn't expect, and even people you know can sometimes decide to take their own life, so it is possible. I found out a friend of mine I've known since I was born has tried to kill herself several times recently, and it surprised hell out of me. She doesn't seem like there's any good reason, but you can never tell what people are thinking.

You should be looking at all the other options with friends and lawyers etc. I think, it's a sensible way of establishing the truth. If there was any foul play it's important to determine what the causes were, and if anyone is to blame trying to get answers. That said, it's very easy to point the finger.

I think we also need to remember that this is an open forum that family and friends could read, and even accused parties etc. so careful what you write. If you know details that shouldn't be out in the open, it may be for good reason. I was in a similar position not so long ago.
 

·
Part of the 'Phoenix Programme'
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Imported post

Thank you  Bren, John, Digger.

Digger, no one suspects foul play here. We simply feel that it is a bit fast ôn the part of the police to close the file that same afternoon with a suicide verdict, leaving many things unexplained. The only accusation I make is one of laziness!

Your point on suicide is well taken: no one can judge what another person can bear. It just seems VERY unlikely, especially under the circumstances, and the fact that Peter had booked another course in the next month (trimix) and had plans, etc. It is simply not indicated, unless someone comes up with a note or something. Nothing has been found up to this point.

It cannot be completely ruled out at this point, but to  just write if off as suicide is laziness, IMHO.

Can you imagine the self will it would take to NOT BREATHE if you had air in your tanks, even if you did want to die. The body would kick in and demand its due.

As I say, it is simply a matter of tying up some loose ends before a convenient verdict of suicide is announce.

Again, I am assuming an error, possibly on Peter's part, possibly several errors etc. Until the buddies break their wall of silence, nothing can really be known.

It may be ultimately impossible to determine exactly what happened, but why suicide if "death by misadventure* or similar would "explain" it as well.

moray
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,839 Posts
Imported post

If I were planning on suicide on a dive, I'd invest in an Argon setup and switch to that when down - that way I'd be able to breathe happily until I passed out from anoxia.. Drowning is NOT how I'd choose to go!

I recall a story about a diver who, when at depth, took the DV from his mouth and waved it around. When asked later, on the boat, he explained that he was so narked that he'd thought the fish were drowning and needed him to share his air.

So looking for rational reasons why his direct feeds were not connected might not get anywhere - you need to consider irrational ones as well. He might have thought disconnecting hoses was the best way to stop becoming positively buoyant and suffering a rapid ascent!
 

·
Grumbler-chief in Residence
Joined
·
1,969 Posts
Imported post

Moray,

Firstly I would like to say how sorry I am that this has happend, not only for the person who has lost his life, but also for those left behind having to deal with the loss of a dear friend.

I have resisted commenting so far, but just want to add a bit about being narked at depth. I have, a couple of times been scarily close to loosing it, once on air at 50M and once on mix at 70M (wrong mix for the depth). The one thing I learn't was just how easy it would be to get it wrong. My kit carried on working and I found my way out, but, it would be incredibly easy to start to wonder if the kit is functioning. I am sure I am not the only person who has ever started to move to the surface and found myself wondering why I wasn't, this could explain why he started to head for the wall. It could explain the disconnected hoses, if he thought no gas was getting to the wing he might have tried to swap them. It is a very a short step from there to panic especially if you are narked, which would make it very hard to reconnect a hose, particually with gloves on.

This is obviously pure speculation, but I have been close to this myself.

Also, I pretty certain you can discount suicide, why would he have gone for the wall, also what an odd way to go about it, to leave it until you are assending, I just don't believe anyone would do that.

Andrew
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
224 Posts
Imported post

<font color='#0000FF'>diving accidents are rarely fully explainable. i lost a friend several years ago in one of the local lakes. he was with another friend at about 46mtrs in v. poor viz (which he was used to) they headed for the surface but were separated on ascent, one made it the other didn't. it was a usual dive for him, nothing he hadn't done many times before. me and my buddy surfaced ok and  assisted the other friend with a surface search as it was dark (normal as the four of us did a weekly night dive ) . after about 20 mins with no sign we contacted the emergency services. the police divers arrived the next day but could find no body(police divers CAN go below 30 mtrs but must be on surface supply).the police searched for a long time,about two weeks if i remeber correctly, and after they left we carried on looking for him, the police kept coming back for a look quite often and there was even some guys from liverpool with an r o v
a lot of rumours started after we lost him, all totally unfounded, some even said he'd done a reggie perrin.
it was two years before he was found by bill smith (the bloke who found bluebird). he was found in 46mtrs and recovered by police divers nobody to this day knows what happen and we never will .
we were doing a normal dive in normal conditions (for us) but for some unknow reason one of us didn't make it back. i believe there are still a lot of unknowns in diving, a lot of it is just theory(imho)
don't know if this is really relevant to the thread but i hope it helps
     mark
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
281 Posts
Imported post

My sincere condolences and regrets.

I am not qualified to comment in detail on this tragedy. However I was reminded by this thread of the various accounts of the sad death of Vince Napoliello on the Doria in 1998.

I mention this purely because of the apparent conclusion reached by the police in this case of suicide, when the circumstances of Vince's death (I should emphasise that my knowledge of this is from reading the various accounts, not personal) clearly indicate that, while he was behaving in a bizarre manner, there was no suggestion of suicide there.

So one can perhaps conclude that there is evidence from past tragedies to show that a conclusion of suicide is, at the least, uncertain and is probably unsafe.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top