Research Diver Fatality in Alaska

Please register or login

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

chris kippax

Contributor
Messages
900
Reaction score
726
Location
Australia
# of dives
500 - 999
(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?
 

Steelyeyes

Contributor
Messages
794
Reaction score
632
Location
Kralendijk, Bonaire
# of dives
200 - 499
I was a few classes ahead of Umi in the dive programs at UC Santa Cruz and mentored him through several classes and as a dive buddy. His dive skill and dive planning mentality was what you would expect from mentors here on scubaboard. Great dive skill with regards to buoyancy and awareness. Dive planning was thoughtful and safe.

To set the record straight that was brought up several posts above:
He was diving SCUBA off the USGS research vessel Gyre, in a 3-man buddy team in waters 30ft max bottom. The purpose was doing sub-tidal underwater surveys. The survey project collaboration is with US Geological Survey, National Park Services, and his post-doc research with UCSC.
At some point during a regroup the 2 other divers didn't find him and after searching, found him at the surface unresponsive.

He had an impact on the communities of UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, and research communities operating in Antarctica and Alaska.

Our community including current & alumni are supporting each other and withholding speculation. Since I'm alumni of UCSC's Scientific Diving Program, I do not expect to be shared any findings when the investigation finalizes. I'm also going to distance myself and not respond to this forum post, as any info I'm receiving further is in confidence and not released for public knowledge at this time.


You guys are always respectful on the A&I. Thank you and keep up the safety discussions.
Thanks for the personal perspective. Condolences.
 

bowlofpetunias

Oh no, not again!
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
12,685
Reaction score
6,164
Location
Sydney Australia
# of dives
500 - 999
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.
 

Bierstadt

Contributor
Messages
486
Reaction score
448
Location
Erie, PA
# of dives
100 - 199
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.
 

Bob DBF

Contributor
Messages
12,017
Reaction score
18,999
Location
NorCal
# of dives
I just don't log 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.

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.

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.

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.



Bob
 

g1138

Contributor
Messages
3,068
Reaction score
809
Location
Charleston, SC
# of dives
500 - 999
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
On August 7, 2019, a UCSC researcher died during a scientific dive in the Torch Bay area of Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. The dive team included five UCSC divers and one United States Geological Survey (USGS) diver. Immediately following the incident, a Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) was assembled with diving safety professionals from UCSC, USGS, the National Park Service, and the UC Office of the President. During the investigation, the SAIT collected evidence, conducted interviews, reviewed documents and interview transcripts, developed timelines, and compiled the information in order to recreate the scene and conditions under which the diving accident occurred. The goal of the SAIT was to gain an understanding of the reasons why the accident happened and to recommend corrective actions to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

After thorough evaluation, the SAIT 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 report found in public update:
Fatality Diving Accident at Torch Bay, Alaska
TLDR
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.
 

rjack321

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
11,417
Reaction score
6,310
Location
Port Orchard, Washington State
# of dives
1000 - 2499
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
TLDR
As I know how readers on the internet operate, if you jump to the last paragraph on Pg27 (reference drysuit picture on pg 42) , 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.
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?
 

g1138

Contributor
Messages
3,068
Reaction score
809
Location
Charleston, SC
# of dives
500 - 999
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?

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.
 

HKGuns

Contributor
Messages
661
Reaction score
644
Location
Merica
# of dives
25 - 49
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.
 

johndiver999

Contributor
Messages
1,915
Reaction score
2,026
Location
Gainesville FL
# of dives
500 - 999
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?
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/teric/

Top Bottom