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Research Diver Fatality in Alaska

Discussion in 'Accidents & Incidents' started by covediver, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. chris kippax

    chris kippax Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Australia
    (Speculation) Sounds like same ocean buddy system?
    To surface he must have known there was an issue and became positively buoyant/swam for the surface? He seemed quite young/fit looking to have a medical emergency. Maybe OOA?
  2. Steelyeyes

    Steelyeyes Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Kralendijk, Bonaire
    Thanks for the personal perspective. Condolences.
  3. bowlofpetunias

    bowlofpetunias Oh no, not again! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sydney Australia
    Sadly many things can cause a person to be found unresponsive on the surface. From @g1138 comments he was a safety conscious diver who had well planned dives.

    I know some are not impressed with a 3 diver team and some are not impressed with the concept of Solo diving. The reality is that many solo dives are conducted safely every year. I wonder if this dive was planned as a loose "team" of 3 Solo Divers. If the dive was planned as such and the divers were equipped appropriately I can see no justification for pointing fingers at the divers.

    The reality is that much as we may like to deny it, diving has inherent risks we accept each time we submerge. We may mitigate the risks with planning but we can never remove them entirely.
    Wathdoc, Bob DBF, Altamira and 2 others like this.
  4. Bierstadt

    Bierstadt Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Erie, PA
    Such a promising young man, rest in peace.

    I would be surprised if this was caused by a diving issue. He sounded like a competent diver and it was 30 feet with ample support. Anything is possible, but I would lean towards a medical problem. Pointless speculation, but I just really hate it when divers perish without doing something obviously unsafe or foolish.
    Wathdoc and Bob DBF like this.
  5. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Contributor

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    I'm one that is not impressed with 3 diver teams, as without excellent discipline, it has a tendency to break down and lose a team member. As you know, I have no issue with solo diving, but I don't believe it is allowed in scientific diving. One either has a buddy, team, or tender.

    Completely agree.

    Shallow dive, from the article, an experienced diver, from Marine Scientist, I'd tend to think it was a medical event. Age can predict the relative probability of a fatal medical event, not the possibility, and diving does not help the survival rate. It's a shame in any event.

    Wathdoc and bowlofpetunias like this.
  6. g1138

    g1138 Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Charleston, SC
    A public update was release in February 2020. Excerpt below followed by the full quote & links.
    You can find my original response to this thread on Post #10, which I still agree with.

    I received the report last year when it was released amongst our dive administrator organization. There were other personal conversations I had that I'll keep in private. This will be the final update from me on topic and I believe conclusive to contribute to discussion for other divers' safe practices.

    "After thorough evaluation, the SAIT [Serious Accident Investigation Team] concluded that the diver was well trained with appropriate experience for the research being conducted. However, a sequence of individually benign factors, when combined, led to an irreversible and devastating outcome. The SAIT concluded that the primary issues appear to have been associated with the configuration of an unfamiliar dry suit and supporting equipment."

    Link to the public update:
    Glacier Bay Diving Incident

    Link to the report found in public update:
    Fatality Diving Accident at Torch Bay, Alaska
    As I know how readers on the internet operate, if you jump to the last paragraph on Pg27 (reference drysuit picture on pg 43) , that will answer your direct question to speculation of sequence of events. The report in full however gives the whole picture for the dive team, operation, and emergency response. So I would recommend reading top to bottom before discussing.
  7. rjack321

    rjack321 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Port Orchard, Washington State
    I have never seen a drysuit inflator installed in that position? I read the whole report but seem to have missed what the purpose of moving the inflation valve to the hip? Is/was that common at USC or USGS or NPS and why?
    Hoyden likes this.
  8. g1138

    g1138 Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Charleston, SC
    It is not an occurrence for UCSC. I do not know of USGS or NPS but I have not heard of any reputation for that placement in my experience.
    rjack321 likes this.
  9. HKGuns

    HKGuns Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Merica
    I read the entire report and there were errors of judgment all over the place.

    - Know when to call a dive
    - Proper use of equipment, suspenders / crotch strap
    - Proper use of equipment, LP hose to dry suit valve too short
    - Diving a Dry suit without boots and rigging your fins to stay on with ankle weights
    - Buddy system not followed, perhaps normal for this type of research

    There was so much wrong going on there it seems unfathomable someone didn't question calling the dive. Thanks a lot for posting, as a new diver, who just purchased a dry suit, I learned a lot.

    The report is confusing on actual depth of the dive, based on where they found his items I'm guessing it was only 30 feet.
    Rollin Bonz likes this.
  10. johndiver999

    johndiver999 Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Gainesville FL
    That was an incredibly detailed report. I read most of it.

    I am not really that familiar with dry suits, so some of it was hard to grasp, but I also had never heard of an inflator on the thigh.

    It seemed to imply that the lost weight pocket knocked the mask and regulator off the diver, but I didn't understand why the weight pocket was released? Do we assume that maybe he tried to drop it when first inverted on the surface?

    It was clear from the description of the dive protocol, that each divers was working independently with their own tasks, location and dive duration, so there was no buddy system implemented. I can understand that kind of approach in a shallow, calm dive site located within a relatively small survey area. Is that kind of dive plan consistent with their planned scientific diving protocols?

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