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October 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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PADIís Wicked Ways

throwing a divemaster under the bus, and colluding with plaintiffs

from the October, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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PADI's money-making Discover Scuba Diving course (DSD), once simply called a resort course, is on trial, and it looks like PADI will do whatever it can to protect it -- even if it means throwing a PADI instructor under the bus, and operating secretly and illegally behind the court judge's back.

PADI instructor Corbett Douglas, who worked for Blue Water Scuba, based in Logan, UT, had four divers -- two Boy Scouts and their scoutmaster -- under his charge in a DSD course in Utah's Bear Lake in July 2011. During the introductory dive, one Boy Scout had anxiety problems, as apparently did the scoutmaster, and Douglas was faced with a choice: guide the two anxious victims back to the surface or let them go on their own. Because the other two scouts seemed stable on the bottom, he guided the two troubled divers to the surface. By the time he returned, one of the boys he left behind, David Tuvell, had drowned.

DSD programs have an accident rate more than twice that of PADI's standard openwater certification courses. As Bret Gilliam wrote in Undercurrent back in March 2012, a big problem lies with the standard: Only one instructor may lead up to four divers. Should a diver get into trouble, the instructor must either let him head to the surface alone or go with him and leave the other divers unaccompanied. Gilliam argued that two instructors were essential for safety, which would also permit the groups to be much larger, with as many as a dozen divers....

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"If there is an issue over how Tuvell died, it is the standards of the Discover Scuba Diving program."

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