Diver Death in seattle

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Posted by BadFish on November 07, 2001 at 14:07:12:


Woman dies in scuba accident
Diving-expedition employee stricken with bends while attempting rescue

Tuesday, November 6, 2001


A mother on a guided San Juan Islands scuba-diving expedition with her 23-year-old daughter noticed that her child was in trouble, sinking quickly toward the bottom. The mother surfaced to get help but it was too late -- her daughter was pronounced dead a short time later.

A female employee of the diving company who tried to rescue the victim off Orcas Island had to be hospitalized after she got the bends by surfacing too quickly with the victim.

"It can happen," San Juan County Sheriff Bill Cumming said. "It's a panicky situation."

The names of the Idaho woman who died, her 50-year-old mother and the rescuer were not immediately released.

The 23-year-old was pulled unconscious to the surface by an employee of a diving shop at Rosario Resort, near where the women were diving. She was pronounced dead after being pulled out of the water.

The victim "apparently had some kind of emergency" while diving and rapidly dropped to the bottom, 92 feet below the surface, Cumming said. The incident occurred during a diving tour.

The rescuer, a 32-year-old woman, was airlifted to Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, where she underwent treatment for the bends in the hospital's hyperbaric chamber.

The rescuer worked for Island Diving Water Sports, which is located at the resort. Owner Ron Kenny confirmed the rescuer worked for him but referred other questions to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

That group's risk manager, Cheryl Gilmore, said the victim, her mother and an unidentified man from Idaho went to the dive together as part of an excursion that left from the resort.

"It's my understanding they were certified divers, experienced divers, (and) it was a trip to go out diving for the day," Gilmore said.

Exactly what happened won't be known until after the completion of witness interviews and an autopsy, to be performed by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office, Cumming said.

The group was diving near a rock formation known as the Rosario Wall when the young woman began her plunge to the bottom. The waters off the San Juans are cold, with dangerous currents, but are known as a world-class scuba-diving location.

"Diving is ... a relatively safe sport, as is most any of the many sports people do," Gilmore said. "It's just unfortunate that these things happen."

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