01 November 2004

Body of diver found 10 years on

Danielskuil - Almost ten years after a young man drowned in a deep dive attempt in the Bushmen's Hole near here, an Australian diver this week found his remains on the uneven bottom of the freshwater cave.

Mr David Shaw, 50, now from Hong Kong, also set a new world deep dive record of 271m with re-breather apparatus (where the same gas is re-used after it has been purified by chemicals in the cylinder).

The finding of the diver's remains came three days after Verna van Schalkwyk, 34, an information technologist from Johannesburg, became the first woman in the world to dive to a depth of 221m here - the deepest dive for a woman so far.

She also established a new record for women in cave diving and is the woman who has dived the deepest in water at this altitude.

Mr Derek Hughes, team coordinator, said yesterday Shaw went into the pool at 07:00 on Thursday.

"Dave then looked for the steepest descent and went down a further 10m and then moved 20m horizontally.

"While moving his light beam around, he saw the diver's remains down the incline.

"He then decided to end his own effort and swam towards the spot.

"According to his depth gauge it was at 271m.?

On his way to Welkom on Friday, where he was to be treated in a decompression tank for pains in his arms, he said the remains of the diver was lying on its back.

"It was clad in a diving suit, complete with diving gear and diving goggles. I could see the bones of the skull.

"I could not move the skeleton from its watery grave as the oxygen cylinders were embedded in the mud.

"I then took a rope, tied it to the diving suit and also to a calibrated line.

"It took me nine hours and 30 minutes to reach the surface."

Shaw spent five and a half hours in the decompression tank on Friday as prevention measure against the possibility of "the bends" (caisson disease).

Shaw is a captain of a passenger airline in the Pacific and will fly back to Hong Kong on Monday after a ten day holiday in South Africa.

Hughes said after ten years the remains of the diver were now connected to the surface with a line.

"We are almost 100% sure that it is the body of Deon Dreyer, 20, of Vereeniging.


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