Diver drowns in guided cenote dive

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Nirvana

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From Riviera Maya News:

Tulum, Q.R. – A Spanish tourist has died after straying away from his guide and tour group while diving a local cenote.

The accident happened March 1 at Calavera cenote three kilometers outside the town of Tulum when a small group took to the cenote for an afternoon of cave diving. Not long after they entered the water did the 26 and 27-year-old women, both from Germany, notice the third person, a 26-year-old male from Spain, had wandered away from the group.

The group entered the cenote around 2:00 p.m. with their guide. The two women said they were in the water for about 30 minutes when they noticed the man was no longer with the group. The trio set out to find the fourth diver, but were unable to locate him.

Authorities were notified of the accident. The Attorney General of the State (PGJE), Civil Protection personnel and the Special Rescue Unit Water Diving Division of the Municipal Police were sent to the scene. Members from the special rescue unit entered the cenote in search of the missing man but did not find his body on Tuesday. Rescue divers reentered the cenote on Wednesday and located the victim at 5:00 p.m.

According to the group’s dive guide, the young man failed to comply with diving guidelines by not leaving the pre-set guide ropes set out in the cenotes. Many of the underwater caves are kilometers in length and can quickly become disorientating.
 

The Laconic

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Let me state the obvious: news reports about diving fatalities are useless.

(Thanks for posting it though, seriously.)
 
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Nirvana

Nirvana

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No offense taken.

In any case, from what I understood it was a guided cavern tour for three divers untrained in overhead diving, conducted by one guide. The article does not state the experience level of the guide.

Are there lessons to be learned? It is clear that, for some reason, the guide didn't notice one of his customers leaving the group. Was it his responsibility to make sure his clients didn't "stray", as the article puts it? Regarding the choice of dive site, I can't comment as I never dived it.
 

The Laconic

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it was a guided cavern tour for three divers untrained in overhead diving

That's the one thing I wanted to know most. Thanks.
 

Jack Hammer

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...
In any case, from what I understood it was a guided cavern tour for three divers untrained in overhead diving, conducted by one guide....
That was the word on another site.

When exiting a cave in the area of this incident last year we saw a group of OW divers on a cavern tour well into the cave zone. They turned and started heading out away from us, It was still a bit concerning.
 

Redshift

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Let me state the obvious: news reports about diving fatalities are useless.

I wouldn't say useless. In this case it's what is known.
One thing I'd like to know better, they said the diver "failed to comply with diving guidelines by not leaving the pre-set guide ropes set out in the cenotes." Was he found at a place without line?
 

JohnnyC

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In order to be a cavern guide in Mexico you need to be a certified DM, and have a full cave cert. No specific agency, just as long as you've got DM and cave. That's the agreed upon standard down there. I'm not sure if it's codified into law, but every cenote that has a large scale system map in the parking lot, and caters to tourist OW divers has the requirement printed on it.

As for "pre-set guide ropes," the cave lines in Mexico are generally set well into the cave to prevent random OW divers from finding them and doing something stupid. However, cavern lines are easy to find and generally start in open water. I would guess that they made a jump from the cavern line to the cave line and that's what the article means, the diver left the cavern line. BTW cavern lines in Mexico tend to be big beefy gold lines.

I've heard some rumors about what happened, but at this point they're all rumors and "secret sources" and crap like that, so I wouldn't want to speculate any more than guessing that leaving the cavern line is what the article meant, considering they found him in the cave.
 

Germie

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And the guide has to have/dive with full tech equipment I heard, so twinset with longhose.

But I wonder about what was the position of the guide when this happened?
 

Doppler

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I too will state the obvious.

Failure to warn is a multifaceted curse. For example, when we teach OW divers to stay away from overhead environments, and then allow them to sign up for "tours" in an overhead environment, we have to understand that we have just diminished the impact/importance/veracity of our initial warning.

For the record, as a cave instructor, the maximum number of students I can take into a cave is three. I believe standards for guided dives should drop the ratio to 1:1 or 1:2 under special circumstances.
 

boulderjohn

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For example, when we teach OW divers to stay away from overhead environments, and then allow them to sign up for "tours" in an overhead environment, we have to understand that we have just diminished the impact/importance/veracity of our initial warning.
I will go beyond that and say that the warning we give them is potentially WORSE than useless.

We tell them they can NEVER go into ANY overhead environment without advanced and expensive training and equipment. Then they go on their first trip to, say, Cozumel. On their first OW dive, the guide takes them through a short and very safe swim through, violating that supposedly absolute rule. Maybe they instead go to South Florida for their first dives, and enter the big, wide, open main deck of the Tracy wreck. Again, they are violating that ironclad rule from the start of their diving experience. They naturally conclude that the rule is a total crock. That leaves them with no rule or guideline whatsoever.

So then we tell them not to go into caverns, caves, serious wrecks, etc., because--as we said before--NEVER go into ANY overhead environment without advanced and expensive training and gear. Are we surprised when they conclude that these warnings are part of the same BS warning they heard before? Are we surprised with they decide they can ignore those warnings as well?

A couple ago, as a part of the ScubaBoard policy against anyone advocating entering caves without proper training, I deleted a conversation in which an OW diver was talking about his plans to go to Ginnie Springs and go into the Devil's Eye entrance and then exit through the nearby Devil's Ear opening. It's just a simple swim through, he argued. At about the same time, the body of an OW diver was found in the maze known as the Catacombs, a maze you would almost certainly enter if you thought the trip between the two openings was a simple swim through. (For those who don't know, the tunnels between them doing something of a cross, and the Devil's Ear opening is located almost exactly opposite from where you would expect it to be.)

Because I believe that absolute rule is worse than no rule at all, I got PADI to approve a specialty course named "Understanding Overhead Environments." This is an academic only (no diving) course that explains the differences between the different kinds of overhead environments. It tells why swimming under the anchor chain is permissible for brand new divers, but why different kinds of overheads become more and more dangerous. It admits that SOME overhead environments can indeed be dived safely without advanced and expensive training and equipment, but it explains clearly why some environments absolutely require that training and equipment.
 
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