Main Menu
Join Undercurrent on Facebook

The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975 | |
For Divers since 1975
The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
"Best of the Web: scuba tips no other
source dares to publish" -- Forbes
November 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 44, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
What's this?

A Tough Lesson to Learn from a Dive Tragedy

from the November, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

It may be an extreme case, but it's one we can all learn from. Back in August 2012, Lex Warner was on the deck of the MV Jean Elaine, preparing to dive a wreck off Cape Wrath in northwest Scotland. A 50-year-old experienced recreational and technical diver, Warner had received his trimix certification three years prior and was a member of the "Dark Star," an informal but invitation-only group of experienced technical divers.

Ready to dive and seriously loaded with a trimix rebreather, two open-circuit bailout tanks, and the other paraphernalia required for such a deep, dark dive, Warner slipped and fell on the heaving deck of MV Jean Elaine. He was so loaded down, he could not get himself up. Skipper Andy Cuthbertson and deckhand Allan Stanger helped him to his feet. With mouthpiece in, Warner nodded he was OK. Minutes later, he was descending onto the wreck far below.

Other divers saw Warner at both 130 feet and 230 feet, and he appeared to be swimming well, but at 290 feet deep and only 10 minutes since his deck fall, his dive computer revealed, upon later examination, that he started heading back on the long route to the surface. His breathing appeared normal, but by the time he reached 66 feet, he was struggling to breathe and control his buoyancy.

Other divers tried to help Warner, but by this time, he was without any breathing equipment in his mouth, and eventually they had no alternative but to send him shooting to the surface by means of an emergency lifting bag. Attempts to resuscitate Warner at the surface failed, and he was declared dead at the hospital.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had suffered internal injuries inconsistent with diving, which the medical examiner attributed to his fall on the boat. Several months later, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, alerted by Warner's wife, reviewed the findings and decided he died from decompression sickness due to ascending and missing decompression requirements. However, both sets of doctors agreed that Warner's internal injuries were a medical emergency in their own right.

What can be learned from this? If you are not 100 percent fit and well before diving, don't press on regardless, thinking it will be better underwater. It won't. And that doesn't matter whether you are doing an extreme technical dive or a simple one down to 60 feet.

I want to get all the stories! Tell me how I can become an Undercurrent Online Member and get online access to all the articles of Undercurrent as well as thousands of first hand reports on dive operations world-wide

Find in  

| Home | Online Members Area | My Account | Login | Join |
| Travel Index | Dive Resort & Liveaboard Reviews | Featured Reports | Recent Issues | Back Issues |
| Dive Gear Index | Health/Safety Index | Environment & Misc. Index | Seasonal Planner | Blogs | Free Articles | Book Picks | News |
| Special Offers | RSS | FAQ | About Us | Contact Us | Links |

Copyright © 1996-2024 Undercurrent (
3020 Bridgeway, Ste 102, Sausalito, Ca 94965
All rights reserved.