Ben McDaniel

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shelby mcdaniel

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I thought I would share with the readers of this forum that we have received Ben's death certificate from the state of Florida. This upcoming August 18 he will have been missing three years. We miss him. All his furniture and clothes are as it was the day he left to dive at Vortex Springs. I drive his truck now. Of course his dog Spooner lives with us as does Paul's dog Emma. We have Paul's bedroom suite as it was when he died of a stroke September 14, 2008. We miss him too, and Paul lives on as he gave the gift of life to four people and his tissue to help others live a better life. His heart recipient comes to see us every year from Dallas.

Shelby McDaniel, Ben and Paul's dad
Ben's family,
While researching diving locations in FL, I came across an article detailing the tragedy you suffered involving Vortex Spring and I felt compelled to reach out in some way to express my condolences (a word which you likely despise at this point) not just for the loss of Ben, but for all of the devastation you have endured. It was sickening to learn that others went on to make documentaries and the like which would further your pain and scrutinize your boys due to incredibly common mental health treatments and the fact that your son was taking some time to recover from hardship many people will never face nor fathom.

In an effort to give you even a sliver of a silver-lining I wanted to let you know that as somebody new to diving (and even just as a fellow human being), I have gathered from Ben's story:

Despite how wonderful and awe-inspiring the feeling of solitude under the water, I will not dive alone.

Regardless of my passion for discovery and innate curiosity, I will evaluate the degree of safety in community and not the dive location alone (I'm 5'3" and about 135lbs. I can barely walk ten feet with all of my gear on).

It's entirely possible that Ben saved my life and the lives of my loved ones who would have survived me simply because of the influence this story has had on me. It's possible this happened for many people. It's not worth it, I know. It is something though. It is some very small positive derived from something so unfair.

I hope you can reflect on his life more than you inevitably must ruminate on his death.

All of the love a stranger can give,

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