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September 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 32, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A Fast Trip to the Top Is Disastrous

faulty gear or lack of familiarity can kill

from the September, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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British diver Steven Slater (46) from Gateshead, UK, knew he was going to die as he accelerated toward the surface.

Slater was an accomplished technical and CCR diver who, in difficult conditions, had investigated many deep wrecks.

He and his buddy had made a long flight to the U.S. They were both fatigued when, on July 24th, they endured a rough crossing to the wreck of the SS Andrea Doria, which sank on the way to New York in 1956. It collided with the MS Stockholm, killing 46 people.

But, he went diving. On the deck of the wreck at 165 feet, (50m), he knew he had a problem with his wing inflator mechanism. He needed both hands to hold on to prevent himself from hurtling upward and could not get to his knife or reach his lower dump valve. His buddy, who tried to keep hold of him, couldn't help. She, too, was being dragged upward and had to let him go.

To slow himself, Slater would have had to battle with expanding air in his drysuit and in his CCR counter-lung, as well as the wing. A rapid and uncontrolled ascent without the mandatory deco stops would result in a massive gas embolism. When he reached the surface, he was still conscious, but he knew he wasn't going to survive. He didn't, despite the valiant efforts of those on the dive boat Ol' Salty II to save him....

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