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January 2023    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 49, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Malta Dive Accident Ruled Involuntary Homicide

CCR and traditional SCUBA do not mix

from the January, 2023 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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A 60-year-old experienced diver, Arthur Castillo, has been found guilty of the involuntary homicide of his dive buddy, who died during a dive in the Mediterranean country of Malta in January 2020. The victim, 35-year-old Christine Gauci, was a diving instructor, free diver, and a member of Malta's armed forces.

Christine GauciThe decision has caused an uproar in the international dive community. Here are the details, according to Malta Today.

Castillo, a long-time friend of the victim, had planned a dive with her and four other friends. Beforehand, she told him that she had been awake for 20 hours because of work duties. Castillo's girlfriend tried to convince her not to dive, but Gauci said the cold water would revitalize her senses.

Two other diving pairs also joined the dive. Not long after going to a depth of 52 feet, Gauci had buoyancy problems, which Castillo helped her resolve. Using hand signals, he asked whether they should call off the dive and surface, but Gauci signaled that she wanted to continue. They descended to around 100 feet when she again had buoyancy problems; Castillo pulled her down and emptied excess air from her BC.

In a small underwater cave, one of Gauci's fins became entangled in a fishing net, and Castillo helped cut her free. He said Gauci had again communicated her intention to continue with the dive.

On his suggestion, they ascended to around 50 feet, where Gauci had buoyancy problems again. Castillo moved two one-kg. lead weights (4.5 lbs.) from his weight belt onto hers, and Gauci also picked up a heavy rock. Castillo said she communicated that she wanted to continue with the dive....

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