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October 2007    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 33, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Diver’s Death Blamed on Few Skills and Faulty Valve

from the October, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Inexperience coupled with a faulty valve led to a diver’s death during a Canadian diving trip two years ago, say coroners in British Columbia. Ronald John McKindsey had 20 dives under his belt and an Open Water certification when he went with a local diving club in May 2005 for his first ocean dive.

According to the coroner’s report, he completed one dive in the morning at Denman Island, in British Columbia’s Strait of Georgia. Despite not feeling well at lunch, he went back for an afternoon trip. Shortly after getting in the water, McKindsey surfaced in obvious distress, then sank before others could reach him. He was found a few days later in 65 feet of water.

The coroner’s report states that McKindsey’s second stage regulator was turned to its highest setting. “This level would have required severe physical breathing effort,” said the report. That led to McKindsey suffering severe coronary atherosclerosis, resulting in sudden cardiac arrest.

The coroners also put blame on the certifiers. “The entire process from being a non-diver to an advanced open water diver (as McKindsey was) can be accomplished in under a week,” coroner Kerry J. Clarke stated. “It was suggested in the inquest that the term ‘advanced’ is misleading and leads to a perception by new holders of the certification that their skills are greater than reality. This can lead to new divers putting themselves in positions beyond their ability, leading to potential serious consequences.”

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