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July 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 33, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Discover Scuba Diving Course Leads to Fatality

a single instructor is not enough

from the July, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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We've written before about the dangers in Discover Diving experiences, in which an instructor takes people with no dive experience underwater. Too often, only one instructor is in the water, so if the instructor must aid a participant and take him or her to the surface, the other participants are left alone. Adding another instructor would increase the cost substantially so the single-instructor business model prevails.

Accepted common practices of many dive companies may be at odds with what is prescribed by training manuals and regulations

In 2015, a British tourist, Bethany Farrell, 23, her friend, Melissa Clark, and a Chinese tourist, Can Xu, were undergoing a Discover Scuba Diving experience sponsored by Wings Diving Adventures in the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, Australia. When they entered the water with PADI instructor Fiona McTavish, the visibility was less than two feet (0.5m).

Apparently, early in the dive, McTavish took Can Xu back to the surface, where she left her to wait for the group's boat, leaving the other two at depth before she rejoined them.

Then, with the two newbies, McTavish swam backward facing them, as is common practice with Discover Scuba Diving experiences. To get her bearing, she turned around for 10 seconds, then turned back, only to discover Bethany was missing. McTavish took her remaining charge, Clark, to the surface before searching for the missing student. After an hour, she located Bethany's body in 36 feet (11m) of water, beyond the planned route....

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