Re: Problem @ Catalina yesterday

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Posted by seahunt on October 08, 1999 at 17:26:13:

In Reply to: Problem @ Catalina yesterday posted by MHK on October 04, 1999 at 12:30:35:

Posted by Jim Morris on October 04, 1999 at 16:04:59:

We heard most of this on the marine radio yesterday while we were on our way
out to Farnsworth Banks (backside). Here's what we have found out.

Accident happened about 9AM. Apparently the two victims were free-divers from a
private boat that was anchored near the shoreline.

The Mr. C (San Pedro charter dive boat) had anchored up on Eagle Reef, which is
a few hundred yards out from Catalina and is well-marked by buoys. Dive flag
was flying.

Apparently the two victims were brought out by dingy from the private boat by
another person, who had the divers enter the water near the Mr. C (not sure how
close) and then the dingy went back to the private boat, presumably to pick the
two free-divers up later. Don't know if they were spear-fishing or just
sight-seeing, and don't think it matters much either way.

The captain of the Mr. C said that he saw another boat, a 30' private boat,
heading towards Eagle Reef, and the general area in which he was anchored, at
what appeared to be full speed. He (the captain) ran into the wheelhouse and
began blowing his horn while others on deck yelled at the approaching boat, but
to no avail.

The boat, still moving at a very fast speed, ran directly over the two
free-divers. (Don't know how close or far from the Mr. C they were at the
time.) Right after the impact, the boat stopped, circled back to the Mr. C, and
the boat driver supposedly said, "I think I may have hit one of your divers."
At this point, divers from the Mr. C were already in the water towing back the
victims and a call was put into Isthmus Baywatch, which is about a mile away.

The surviving diver apparently had cuts and lacerations over his legs and
torso. We heard a report of a broken leg. The other diver unfortunately was hit
in the head, apparently by the prop. I will not describe anything here other
than to say it was pretty obvious he wasn't going to make it.

Baywatch took the victims (I'm assuming) to the Catalina Chamber for medical
treatment. We also understand the boat was escorted into the Isthmus area and
the driver was "detained" and the boat impounded.

Don't know if any charges have or will be filed but many of us are SPECULATING
that manslaughter is a possibility, given the proximity of the Mr. C, the
presence of a dive flag, the close approach and excessive speed of the other
boat (California law requires boats to stay 100 yards from another vessel
flying a dive flag), and the buoys on the reef.

Ken Kurtis
NAUI Instructor #5936
Reef Seekers Dive Co.
Beverly Hills, Ca.

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