15 December 2005

Police probe Florida dive instructor's death on 'staff technical dive' gone wrong

Police are investigating the diving death of a professional scuba instructor on Thanksgiving Day off Hallandale Beach.

Zak Jones, 30, who was diving with six colleagues from Fort Lauderdale's Pro Dive International on the Pro Diver II, was pronounced dead on arrival at Aventura Hospital.

Jones had been on what company CEO Frank Gernert described as a "staff technical dive."

According to U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil, Jones and a dive buddy were 150 feet deep, each equipped with three scuba tanks, when they separated to explore a reef.

"After a few minutes, Mr. Jones' dive partner turned and found Mr. Jones struggling as if he were entangled in his tank lines," O'Neil said, quoting from a Coast Guard incident report. "When the dive partner reached Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones was unconscious with the regulator out of his mouth."

Jones' buddy dumped the air out of Jones' buoyancy-compensation vest, sending him quickly to the surface, according to O'Neil. The buddy ascended slower because of the depth they were diving, which is beyond the recreational limit of 130 feet.

At the surface, the buddy administered CPR and flagged down the dive boat. The unconscious Jones was lifted aboard, where the crew continued CPR and radioed the Coast Guard at 10:35 a.m.

According to O'Neil, two Coast Guard vessels were on the scene within 15 minutes, and one of them brought Jones to Haulover Marina, where he was picked up by Miami-Dade paramedics. The paramedics took Jones to Aventura Hospital.

A Miami-Dade police spokesman said the death remains unclassified, pending results of tests by the medical examiner's office.

Jones began his diving career in 1992 after receiving his initial certification.

In 12 years of diving, he held more than 25 certifications, including course director at Pro Dive International.

Gernert said Jones' colleagues are deeply saddened by his death and want to know what caused it.

"Pro Dive and the staff here want to know to the highest possible degree of certainty what happened, and we are reaching out to all scientific and forensic resources to help us understand," Gernert said.

"Until such time as we have anything to report, we only have theories to work with."

Source: www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/local/states/florida/counties


At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was only a matter of time- that place is so unsafe it's a miracle that it hasn't happened sooner- Last year it was an older female snorkler- this year an instructor- course director no less- when will the madness stop?


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