The best diving gone bad is my attempt to explain my feelings about scuba diving one month after a "fun dive" (November 2/2012) went horribly wrong, ending with the death of my dive buddy Scott Revane, R.I.P. my friend.
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Many may question why we scuba dive particularly after a so called "fun dive" has gone so tragically wrong.
I cannot tell you what went wrong because I don't actually know!
We were both fine at the surface just prior to submerging for our dive, but then in a span of seconds I was in a life and death struggle to save Scott from what I could not see or understand.
The details our grim and I will not share them, but I would give anything to have that day back.
The reality is that Scott did not make it.
His wife was widowed and his children were left fatherless, and many people lost a good friend that day.
Though I felt lucky to have known him, I did not feel lucky that day.
A fatality often brings not but negative connotations along with the Media's grim reminder of our own mortality.
Sadly the Media's spin is one of a deadly sport where unless there is a fatality the "News Story" is a non-event.
As a diver with a few hundred dives logged in Vancouver Islands waters, I can tell you, I Love Scuba Diving!
Yes of course there are risks, but to mitigate the risks we take advanced training, and equip ourselves with redundant systems.
Still sometimes, the worst possible can happen.
If you are not a diver it is difficult to explain the sensation of floating weightless, as in zero gravity. (there is a reason that astronauts train underwater for thousands of hours for "outer space" simulation)
Join this with the marine life you see first hand and on occasion even get to interact with, and you may just begin, to "get it".
We dive because we love it!
I am not interested in hanging from a cliff face with or without a rope.
I would never base jump, or jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
I won't even bungy jump!
But scuba diving for some reason appeals so strongly to me, that at this point of my life, I cannot imagine not being able to do it.
Unfortunately the majority of diving accidents are human error and have little or nothing to do with equipment.
Again we dive safely by minimizing risks!
Yes the penalty for error is severe and often final, but for me I would rather go do something I love and am passionate about than sit in a chair as an observer.
Life is very much an action word, and I choose to be a participant!
I hope Scott would agree with my sentiments. Cheers my friend.
Dive safely for those that Love You!
Six months later now and I still think almost daily about what happened that afternoon at Dolphin Beach.
I think one thing I would share for anyone planning to learn to dive is why did Scott not make himself positively buoyant by dropping his weights?
Scott was an engineer and a highly intelligent and organized person and I cannot understand how he failed to execute this basic but incredibly vital part of his scuba training.
I am still deeply affected by the traumatic way he died and can only imagine how hard it must be on Scott's family.
Someone tried to tell me to get on with it, as that is what Scott would have wanted. I say maybe!
My hope is that something may yet be learned by this tragic event that may help other divers avoid a similar fate.
Still miss you Scott.
One year to the day now of Scott's passing.
After 10 months I finally received the coroners report which stated that the cause of death was drowning.
The only unusual addition to the report was the coroners supposition that based on the fact that no one witnessed Scott go from calm and ready to dive to highly agitated, that Scott may have suffered a medical emergency.
The coroner suggests a possible myocardial infarction or seizure, or that Scott may have ingested a large quantity of water that he was unable to recover from.
Sadly for me there is not much revealed in the coroners report.
For myself I was hoping for some sort of closure upon its release, but
unfortunately it was not to be.
I have no more to add at this time, and all I can say is how much that tragic event has shaped the past year for me.
I can only imagine how disappointed and difficult this has been for Scott's family as well, and my deepest sympathies are with them.
Please dive safe for those that love you.
Well here I am again over 2 years after that life altering day.
It took me about 3 months and a lot of encouragement from some diving friends of mine, but I did begin diving once again. I will say though that I have never quite recovered that same zeal that I used to experience regularly when I dove.
Through some great counseling, the support of friends, and the passing of time, I can once again function in the world.
My life is quite different as I am now separated and single. I don't know how much, or what effect exactly, the accident had on my life. I can only say, it is now, quite different.
As I said, I am diving again though not as much. I also find myself at times diving solo, which I never dreamed of doing before the accident. What makes diving dangerous anyway? My thinking goes along the lines of "was I more, or less safe, the day Scott died"
Having a buddy to share the experience is great to be sure, but I have also found a new peace through solo dives. It's not for everyone and I don't do it all the time, but if I can't find a buddy. I'm OK with it.
Not much else to add other than to remind people to be slow and steady in there dive preparations. Do your checks, do your buddy checks. Stop and think whenever something seems different, always trust your gut.
Be well, and dive safe for the people that love you. Cheers!
April 26/ 2017
I have decided to share what happened on that day in hopes that it will convince divers and future divers alike to never get complacent about doing such a simple exercise as a buddy check!
November 2/ 2012, was a Friday and a beautiful Autumn day. The sun shone brilliantly in an almost cloudless sky, with very little wind. The tide was middling and on the rise which made for an absolutely perfect day for two men to get together and share an underwater experience, scuba diving in the waters of Nanoose Bay, at a site known as Dolphin Beach.
I was one of those guys, and little did we know what this day would bring.
While suiting up in dry suits and arranging gear, I realized I had forgotten my DUI weight harness.
I really wanted to take advantage of the perfect day so I dug out all the extra leads I carried as spares and made a weight belt on the spot.
(I will add here that the belt I made was one I used to strap my pony bottle setup to my main tank. As I said I really wanted to dive so I elected to drop my pony bottle to save the dive)
I had informed my dive buddy of what I was doing to assure him that we had not wasted our time by coming out here today, and he said something to the effect that, “oh well we can always dive another day” myself though would have none of it, we had come to dive and dive we would!
My buddy was on board and through chatting I recall he mentioned that he had over 3000 psi in his steel 100 cubic foot tank.
This was as close as we came to doing a buddy check that day. I am embarrassed to say that myself, with almost 200 recorded dives, had become complacent, and felt it was only necessary to check over my own gear to insure proper operation, and that one’s air was fully turned on.
Upon entering the water everything was thumbs up, and we finned out a ways, to where there was about 12 feet of water beneath us. Here we stopped and with a few last words did the thumbs down to begin the dive. Right off I realized I was slightly under weighted as it was a real struggle to get down, but down I did get, and once I broke below the surface I was fine, gently sinking to the bottom.
As was one of my habits I took a few moments to ensure my equipment and its operation was good (If you are a diver you know the drill).
Being comfortable and content that all was well I then suddenly realized I was still alone. I began looking around but could not see my buddy (the visibility was decent for our waters probably in the range of 30 feet).
Looking up I found my partner and saw him finning at the surface, I did not immediately feel there was anything unusual in this so I waited another half minute or so and once again looked up.
This time I sensed more than saw that something was wrong, and quickly went to the surface.
Upon reaching my buddy I was met with someone I did not know.
His eyes were huge and he was gasping for air (his reg was not in his mouth) and he was clearly in an advanced state of panic.
I immediately removed my own reg and thrust it to him but he was well beyond cognitive thought.
I then replaced my own reg, grabbed my Octo and stuck it in his mouth which he immediately spat out.
Again I put my Octo back in his mouth and this time it came back minus the mouth piece.
During all of this I was being pulled at, and down, and I also began hyperventilating.
I soon realized that I to was becoming panicked. I knew I was putting a lot of effort into breathing and staying afloat while trying to figure out WTF was happening, and then suddenly it occurred to me that I was about to die!
In one conscious moment I made the choice to live and I forcefully pushed away from my friend, and then, in what I will call a surreal world, I watched him sink to the bottom.
After a few seconds I descended to him. I recall turning his tank valve about a half turn and hitting his inflator button on his dry suit. We were soon back at the surface, where I towed him into the shallows.
Dragging him from the water onto the rocky beach, I immediately began CPR, the whole time yelling for help. I managed to flag a passing car and asked for a 911 call.
For all my efforts, it was in vain, as were the efforts of a physician who happened to live nearby, who came to our assistance. Shortly after he was pronounced, the RCMP, fireman, ambulance, and lastly, a coroner arrived.
After many questions reviewing the details about the accident, (and recording it), a group of fireman carried my buddy’s body up from the beach.
You never, ever, want to see this!
The epilogue to this story is that 10 months later the coroner stated death occurred by drowning, with the possibility of complications arising from either stroke or myocardial infarction, or simply that a large quantity of water had been ingested that could not be overcome.
The outcome was still the same!
Shattered families, and friends, co-workers, congregation members…and me…
I shared my experience with probably half a dozen divers, all of which had hundreds, and some even thousands of dives. The general consensus was 1 of 2 scenarios.
1, my buddy likely turned on his air, checked his psi, turned the air off and then forgot to turn it on again.
Or 2, he only turned it on about a half turn which would give you a correct pressure reading but totally insufficient volume.
Of course there is also the chance that he simply had a medical emergency, I for one hope that was it, but obviously we will never know.
I know, as you must, that diving is an inherently dangerous sport. That day changed the world for many people who loved and respected that man dearly. Personally I still sometimes struggle with guilt, even after 4 and ½ years.
Bottom line, DO YOUR BUDDY CHECKS!!!
Trust me, you never ever want to second guess yourself!