27 January 2005

Cave diver suffocated

Experts say Australian diver Dave Shaw, who died in Boesmansgat earlier this month while trying to retrieve a body, probably suffocated.

Shaw, 50, was trying to bring the body of 20-year-old Deon Dreyer, who died in the cave ten years ago, to the surface.

Their bodies were unexpectedly pulled from the depths of Boesmansgat as divers raised equipment attached to a line.

Post mortems have been done on both bodies, but police spokesperson Ernst Strydom says they haven't yet received the results from the pathologists.

However, doctors involved in the fateful dive on January 8 have already posted their findings on the website of the International Association of Nitrox Divers.

The doctors
- examined the actual diving equipment;
- analysed the gas mixtures used;
- critically reviewed of the video footage from Shaw's camera;
- re-enacted the breathing patterns on the Mark 15.5 re-breather to capture the last 10 minutes of the diver's life and
- re-enacted the orientation of Shaw in relation to the body and the associated equipment.

They say Shaw successfully reached Dreyer's body, but was unable to recover it due to a number of unforeseen practical factors.

He appropriately aborted the attempt at six minutes - as planned - but subsequently became entangled in the line previously used to mark the body.

In his effort to free himself he succumbed to the combined effects of carbon dioxide build-up and nitrogen narcosis.

The doctors say they are certain that Shaw drowned after becoming unconscious, about 22 minutes after going underwater.

They say evidence suggests that Shaw suffocated.

"Overfilling of his re-breather appears to have prevented him from exhaling properly.

"The breathing impairment, combined with the increased activity of recovering the body, led to a critical build-up of carbon dioxide over a period of 10 minutes.

"This is sometimes called 'deep water black-out'."

"David became increasingly incapacitated, eventually lost consciousness and ultimately drowned.

"While relatively swift, the duration of the process favours carbon dioxide build-up as a cause rather than a lack of oxygen.

"Nitrogen narcosis may have significantly interfered with his ability to solve the problem before it was too late.

"Once he lost consciousness, drowning became inevitable.


At 8:33 AM, Anonymous luvhitide said...

I want to preface this comment by saying that I know it's easy to second-guess, and make judgements about things you don't have first hand knowledge of. And I want to say I'm not a diver. My husband enjoyed diving many years ago, but hasn't in the last 20+ (we've been married for 15 years).
This comment is my reaction to having just seen the story of Dave Shaw's final dive on television last night. It has haunted me ever since.
What a tragic waste of a precious life ..... and near loss of another's. If only Deon Dreyer's parents could have gone on with their lives instead of mourning and allowing no closure for 10 whole years ...... If they could only have turned it over to God. Their son died doing what he loved. He chose the challenge of extreme diving, always knowing what could happen. His parents, themselves, said Deon prayer before every dive. Why couldn't they grief, then accept his death and go on? I can't, in my wildest imaginings, understand why and how they could possibly justify seeking help with recovering their son's "body" - encourage a dive where they're son died - at that incredible depth. How could they think that another man, however skilled, kind, compassionate, willing to take the risk, should go down into those depths to retrieve a SKELETON. They KNEW how and where their son died. It WASN'T a mystery. IT WASN'T AN UNKNOWN, AS WHEN SOMEONE'S CHILD HAS GONE MISSING, AND IT IS NEVER KNOWN WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM. THAT kind of loss is truly one where parents might never be able to achieve closure. BUT the DREYERS DID KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THEIR SON. They knew he did the dive at Bushman's Cave and knew he didn't make it back up. They had all the detals and information from Deon's dive buddies. During the 10 years following Deon's death, they spent thousands of dollars asking other men to go down and put themselves at risk to search for him. Well, Deon's spirit was not in Bushman's Cave,lying in the silt at 894'. What a lack of faith in their Creator that they didn't get to the point where they could celebrate Deon's life and go on with theirs, knowing they would ultimately be reunited. As for Dave Shaw ..... on a misguided Don Quixote-esque mission ..... he really died for nothing. A "noble" way to die (per Don Shirley)?? Maybe his friends, his wife and his children need to think so, for their own sense of closure, but I do not. The ultimate irony, that perfectly attests to the senselessness of this entire tragic episode ..... the Dreyers putting their son's ashes BACK into the water where he was before Dave Shaw lost his life trying to keep his promise to bring him BACK to his parents. WHAT WERE THEY ALL THINKING?????????
My heart aches for ALL the parties involved. I will include all of you (them)in my prayers tonight.

At 6:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all

A memorial for Dave is here if interested



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