2 americans killed in shark boat accident

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Posted by on April 16, 2008 at 11:13:05:

In Reply to: CA man dies on south african shark-diving boat posted by scottfiji on April 16, 2008 at 11:04:01:

CAPE TOWN, South Africa—South African police have identified two Americans who died in a shark adventure boat accident as Cassey Scott LaJeunesse from Maine and Christopher Tallman from San Francisco.

The Americans and a Norwegian drowned when their boat capsized after being hit by a freak wave in otherwise calm waters Sunday while they were on shark cage diving expedition in Gansbaai, about two hours from Cape Town.

The town prides itself as the world's capital for great white sharks, attracted by clear frigid waters and a big seal colony. Thousands of tourists every year flock for the adrenalin rush of being lowered beneath the water's surface in a sturdy cage to view sharks which are attracted by fish and other bait.

The Cape Times newspaper said Tuesday that Tallman, 34, was retrieved from underneath the boat with a faint pulse but died onshore. LaJeunesse, 35, of Biddeford, Maine, was killed instantly.

The newspaper reported that Tallman and LaJeunesse had been in South Africa for a week and had been due to fly home Tuesday.

A South African friend, Jeandre Horn, said LaJeunesse loved the country and had brought Tallman along on a visit. Horn opted out of the shark cage diving trip because he often became seasick but his friends were excited about their adventure.

"We were up (on Saturday) talking about this until two or three in the morning," he told the Cape Times. He described LaJeunesse as a career-driven person who loved to travel. "Just an all-around great guy, very loved by his family and all his friends."

He said that Tallman was "very funny and intelligent."

Inquest dockets have been opened.

Since the diving industry started in 1991 there have been no accidents and no shark attacks, even though some people criticize it for encouraging sharks to equate food with humans.

It went tragically wrong Sunday when a wave described as "tsunami-like" by witnesses broadsided the Shark Team boat.

Nine crew members and nine other tourists survived the incident and were treated for minor injuries and shock. Other boats nearby rushed to help and pluck people from the shark infested waters and so limited the number of casualties.

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