Man who died during night dive off Catalina Island was from Culver City

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Posted by on October 26, 2004 at 03:47:03:

In Reply to: Scuba Diver Dies on Catalina Island posted by Randy on October 24, 2004 at 20:37:44:

A Culver City man died late Saturday after he became tangled in an anchor line during a night dive off the coast of Catalina Island.

Colin Burtis, 33, had already lost consciousness when his diving partner untangled him, said Capt. David Campbell, a spokesman for the Coroner's Office. He was taken to a hyperbaric chamber on the island, but was declared dead.

The Coroner's Office had not conducted an autopsy by Monday afternoon to determine the cause of Burtis' death. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department also is investigating.

Burtis had been diving from a boat near a popular island dive site known as Long Point, deputies said. He was about 40 feet underwater when he became tangled in an anchor line, Campbell said.

Karl Huggins, the program manager of the USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber, said he could not speak in any detail about what had happened to Burtis.

But he said hyperbaric chambers are used to treat two life-threatening conditions in divers: decompression sickness and air embolisms.

Divers get decompression sickness, or "the bends," when they surface too quickly and dissolved gases expand in their bodies. The effect "is like opening up a can of pop real fast," Huggins said.

Air embolisms happen when divers hold their breath as they ascend. The trapped air expands and can rupture their lungs, sending air bubbles into their blood stream.

Both conditions can occur in shallower water than Burtis was in.

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