In late June, a dive operator in the Gulf region passed along details of a diver fatality off Pensacola Beach that did not make the news. What the news stories said was that one person died and another was injured after “coming up to fast.” There is a lot more to this than just that.
The underlying story is that two individuals, after taking part in a one-afternoon scuba discovery experience, decided this was all the knowledge and skills they needed to attempt a 60 m/200 ft dive off their own boat. What could possibly go wrong?
After the first victim bottomed out his tank, both men raced to the surface. One made it but had to be airlifted to the chamber. The second victim didn’t make it, sinking to the bottom. A third victim jumped in and brought the body to the surface, getting bent for his trouble. By then it was too late for victim number two.
What struck me about this story was how rare this sort of incident has become. In the 1950s, fatalities among untrained divers were common. By the 1960s, however, diver training and certification were readily available. You couldn’t buy scuba gear or get your tanks filled without that all-important c-card.