14 July 2005

UK: Scuba diver goes missing off South Coast

An evening training dive off the Devon coast on 12 July ended in disaster, with the loss of a diver after a 28m wreck dive.

According to the Coastguard, two students and an instructor made a rapid ascent after diving the wreck of the Bretagne, 4.5 miles east of Hope's Head.

At about 8.30pm the dive boat Sirrus called Brixham Coastguard to report that one of the students was seen "descending rapidly in difficulty shortly after surfacing with the rest of the group".

Unsuccessful searches were carried out by Exmouth and Torbay lifeboats, and by a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose which put in a diver to search the seabed. The dive boats Seaquest and Torbay Diver, and a helicopter from HMS Bulwark, also responded to the emergency call.

The remaining student and instructor, understood to be from a commercial school, were airlifted by the Bulwark helicopter to Plymouth’s DDRC hyperbaric chamber for precautionary recompression.

On 13 July, the day after the incident, police divers from Devon and Cornwall Constabulary searched for the missing diver without success. They were due to return the following day to continue their seabed search in the Bretagne wreck area.

On 10 July, two other divers were successfully traced and recovered after becoming separated from their dive boat after a drift dive about two miles off Christchurch, Dorset.

The dive boat Strongbow called Portland Coastguard at about 2pm to report that the divers, a 52-year-old man and a 56-year-old woman, had not surfaced as arranged after their dive, and that their surface markers could not be seen.

Searches were carried out by Portland's helicopter, Mudeford inshore lifeboat and Yarmouth lifeboat – but in the end it was a leisure vessel, Crazy J, which spotted the divers at about 3pm and picked them up.

Reportedly in good health, the divers were transferred to the inshore lifeboat and back to their dive boat for landing ashore.

Source: www.divernet.com


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