Posted by TechDiver on April 30, 2004 at 12:09:11:
In Reply to: CG chimes in with recommendations posted by Deb Karimoto on April 30, 2004 at 11:56:36:
By BRIAN MARTINEZ
The Orange County Register
The Coast Guard on Thursday urged the scuba-diving industry to better account for divers after a man was left behind by instructors seven miles off Newport Beach this week. Dan Carlock of Santa Monica spent nearly five hours drifting in the ocean Sunday while rescue workers searched 11 miles away – at the second location his group had been diving that day. He was found by San Diego Boy Scouts sailing to Newport Beach who had veered off course because of heavy fog. The incident is still under investigation. "We anticipate that we will file a complaint for negligence against the captain" of the recreational diving boat, said Lt. Cmdr. John Fassero, a senior Coast Guard investigator. "There is absolutely no question about that." The Coast Guard wants the Professional Association of Diving Instructors and similar groups to recommend the use of numbered wristbands and written checklists and to discourage the use of verbal roll calls.
There are no standard methods for accounting for divers, said Pat Fousek, risk management director for the Rancho Santa Margarita-based Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Dive masters are expected to ensure all passengers are accounted for, but they must each decide how to best accomplish that task, she said. The group is reviewing Sunday's incident, at the Coast Guard's request, and its own dive-master training manuals, she said. But no decision has been made on whether policies need to be changed, she said.
"We value the safety of every diver and our own reputation, so rest assured we will leave no stone unturned," Fousek said. Capt. Ray Arntz is responsible for the incident Sunday, despite a dive master's verbal roll call of all 20 passengers before leaving the first dive location, Fassero said.
"The buck stops with the captain," he said.
If a federal administrative judge agrees, Arntz's Coast Guard-issued license could be suspended or revoked. Dive Master Zacharias Araneta could face discipline from the diving association.
Capt. Arntz declined to comment Thursday, and Araneta referred questions to Ocean Adventures Dive Co. owner Steve Ladd.
"The entire diving community and this store are reviewing their procedures and we will make changes if needed," Ladd said.
"I'm very happy Dan is OK," he said. Several similar diving accidents have happened near Florida in recent years, including a couple who drifted on a small platform for 26 hours. And in 1998, two American divers were never found after being left by a charter boat off Australia. The owner and skipper of the boat were later charged with manslaughter and subsequently cleared.
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