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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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July 2021    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 47, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Tragic, Unnecessary Death of an AOW Trainee

Contents of this Issue:
All Available to Online Members;
Available to the Public = publicly available

Back in the Water Again

Undercurrent is Saving Olive Ridley Turtles

Living Underwater, Cozumel Mexico

The Risk of Selling Second-hand Dive Gear

The Tragic, Unnecessary Death of an AOW Trainee

Editorial Office:

Ben Davison

Publisher and Editor


3020 Bridgeway, Suite 102

Sausalito, CA 94965

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is it time to rethink regulating dive instruction?

from the July, 2021 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Last November, 18-year-old Linnea Mills embarked on a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course in a Montana alpine lake with an instructor from Gull Dive Center in Missoula. As dive students do, she put her trust in those instructing her, and by doing so, she paid for it with her life. That's why her parents and other plaintiffs filed a $12 million lawsuit in May against those involved, including PADI.

Before you learn to drive a car, you are almost invariably aware of the driving environment, the road system, and many of the rules. Learning mainly involves commanding the vehicle in such a way as to make you a safe driver.

When you learn to scuba dive, you know nothing of the underwater environment, buoyancy, or the ramifications of breathing gas under pressure. These are the mysteries that are revealed to you by your diving guru - your diving instructor. You believe and trust everything your instructor tells you.

From the mid-1980s, I attended several diving instructor courses with different agencies, not only for my own certification, but also to research articles I was writing as a diving journalist. Diving had always been portrayed as a fun activity. Still, in the classes, no one ever stressed that the instructor had a grave responsibility when taking a student into the inhospitable underwater environment. Nobody ever said that someone might die while being trained.

Later, I taught diving in Spain, where, under Napoleonic Law, instructors risked being incarcerated after any incident, pending proof that they were innocent. It focused the mind, and during my teaching I never had any such incident....

In Europe, professional diving instruction is now strictly regulated. Not only do instructors need to be appropriately qualified, but also they must undergo an annual health check, have up-to-date life-saving skills, and have therapeutic oxygen available at the dive site.

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