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April 2003 Vol. 29, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Is the Inspiration Rebreather a Death Trap?

from the April, 2003 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In the past five years, according to testimony at a recent trial in Ireland, at least 16 divers have died using the Buddy Inspiration Rebreather, manufactured by the British company AP Valves. One highly experienced diver, Nicholas Gotto died within minutes of entering water leading to the sunken Kowloon Bridge shipwreck in Ireland, reported the Irish Examiner.

In an inquest seeking the precise cause of his death, a technical expert said the rebreather was functioning properly after its recovery several days later. However, neither Gotto's buddy nor four other divers heard a warning alarm from Gotto's equipment. His buddy, Tony O'Mahony, said Gotto had difficulty calibrating the rebreather earlier that day, but it was working correctly before the dive. He said he was 10 feet above Gotto as they descended. They exchanged OK signals twice within minutes, but at 80 feet he found Gotto on his back with his mouthpiece removed. Mahony, who lost his mouthpiece trying to help Gotto, rose to the surface to raise the alarm before returning to help recover the body, which floated to the surface within minutes.

Experts could not determine which metabolic disorder -- high oxygen or excess carbon dioxide levels -- was the primary cause of death.

In March, the jury returned an open verdict, which meant they were genuinely uncertain as to what happened.

A barrister representing AP Valves denied that their equipment was at fault, saying "The deaths were accidents, caused by diver error."

Nonetheless, sixteen deaths on one piece of equipment should be enough to shy anyone away. By the way, since September 2001, the Buddy inspiration has been known as the "Inspiration" and manufactured by Ambient Pressure Diving Ltd, a British company. it was originally marketed by another British company, AP Valves

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