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Posted by .. on June 18, 2004 at 16:18:04:

In Reply to: Diver death Long Point posted by Pasley on June 18, 2004 at 15:21:27:

San Pedro teen's diving death hits family hard
SERVICES: David Gilman, 15, died suddenly after a scuba accident off Rancho Palos Verdes. A memorial geared for teens will be tonight.

By Larry Altman, Daily Breeze

A San Pedro teen who transformed quickly from a shy, quiet student to a talkative comedian admired by his teachers will be remembered tonight at services to mark his accidental death.

David Gilman, a 15-year-old student at the San Pedro High School Police Magnet, drowned Sunday evening while scuba diving with his father near the former Marineland site off the Rancho Palos Verdes coast.

"His loss is mind-boggling," said Afshin Rahmanou, David's 2003 science teacher at Dana Middle School in San Pedro. "I was really devastated."

David, who became a certified scuba diver a few weeks ago, and his father, Barry, were diving about 50 yards out when the teen apparently panicked after water entered his mask.

"I dove 10 feet, looked back and he was fine," his father said. "I turned around and dove another 5 or so feet and turned around and he was gone."

The father swam to his son, who was panicked and floundering, and gave him his air hose. The boy grabbed his father around the neck and they sank, forcing the father to separate himself to breathe.

Gilman said he pulled his son from the water, dropped the weights off his son's suit, and breathed for him as he pulled him to shore. The boy was unconscious, but appeared to have good color while paramedics treated him and flew him to the hospital.

"I thought he was going to be OK at that point," Gilman said. "We drove to Harbor General. We fully expected to have things looking up there. I became hysterical when we got there."

Coroner's officials said David died of drowning as a result of an air embolism.

His death shocked those who in the last year saw the 6-foot-2-inch young man blossom, develop friends and mature.

Rahmanou and English teacher Brian Spencer included him on a school trip to Yosemite last year. At first the teen was upset that they separated him from a friend, but eventually he was laughing, joking and enjoying himself.

"By the end of the trip he was getting up, standing in front of crowds, telling jokes," Rahmanou said. "It really turned him around."

Spencer said the boy he once called "Mumbles" because he spoke in a whisper suddenly became a student he couldn't keep quiet in class.

"David loved to catch me being wrong," Spencer said. "He was quite the character. He loved to debate. He loved to just challenge you."

David was dyslexic, but extremely bright and had an excellent vocabulary, his teachers and parents said.

A ninth-grader in the police magnet school program, David played volleyball two days before his death with Los Angeles police officer Michael Pounds, who works with the students.

Pounds called him a "really, really nice, hardworking kid." Students bought a yearbook for David, signed it and circled their photographs.

"It really hit them hard. Everybody liked him," Pounds said. "He was one of those good positive attitude-type guys. It's going to be a loss without him."

Gilman said his son took an interest in bugs and talked of becoming an entomologist. He won a second-place award in a science fair for his project discussing the impact of different types of bats on a baseball.

A service geared for teens will be held at 7 tonight at Hope Chapel in San Pedro.

A funeral service will follow at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Ninth Street church.

David is survived by his father; his mother, Diane; his older sisters, Annie and Michelle; and his grandparents, Darwin and Shirley Horn, and Ann Gilman.

Gilman said faith is helping his family cope.

"It would be impossible if we didn't know where he was and that God was looking after him," he said. "He has a place there, and we are going to see him again."

Publish Date:June 18, 2004

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