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April 2011    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 37, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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PADI Stonewalls Dead Diverís Family

from the April, 2011 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Whenever we are working on a story and contact PADI for its feedback, opinion or data, we never get a reply. They don't care much for our independent inquiries, so we're not offended by their lack of response, though it does mean their side of the story doesn't get into print. But being tightlipped may be offending others, in this case a family suffering the death of a loved one who died while diving with a PADI dive shop.

Amy O'Maley was diving in Fiji's Beqa Lagoon on December 29 with a divemaster from Beqa Adventure Divers. According to O'Maley's boyfriend, Dale Kennedy, the divemaster resurfaced alone to change a tank, leaving O'Maley, 28, alone in a strong current. Kennedy panicked and went to search for O'Maley, finding her 60 feet down.

She was brought to the surface unconscious and, according to witness' statements, it was Kennedy and other divers on the boat who first sprang into action to administer CPR, with the dive crew joining in later as the boat made the 20- minute journey to shore. A van was waiting to take O'Maley to the local hospital because no ambulance was available, but the van was unsuitable for the 10-minute ride to hospital because there was not enough room for others to continue administering CPR. Instead, Kennedy and others called a taxi and pulled the seats down. Hospital staff was unable to revive O'Maley.

Fijian police say she died of asphyxiation. O'Maley's sister travelled to Fiji to speak with Beqa Adventure Divers but said they have told her exactly what happened. As for PADI, no one there responded to us, nor did Beqa Adventure Divers. The only comment PADI made was to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, saying that it was also investigating O'Maley's death but it will keep its conclusions confidential, even from her family.

We suppose PADI stays mum for fear whatever is says may be used against them in lawsuits. Fair enough. But dead divers have grieving parents, spouses, significant others and dive buddies who grieve over them. Giving them even a word of condolence and a "So sorry for your loss" goes a lot further than publicly announcing no one will ever hear another word from them about O'Maley's case. If there's no lawsuit in the making, then stonewalling might just change that.

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