Scuba instructor charged in student's death

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Posted by Wayne on July 29, 2008 at 20:46:09:

Scuba instructor charged in student's death
By Jay Reeves The Associated Press
Article Launched: 07/29/2008 11:25:40 AM PDT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A scuba instructor has been charged with criminally negligent homicide in a student's death, accused of failing to properly supervise the man's ascent from the bottom of a pool during a class, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Though officials initially referred to the April 2007 death of Zachary Moore as an accident, the prosecutor said a grand jury decided there was sufficient evidence to charge instructor Allison Rainey Gibson after the student died during a class for beginners at the University of Alabama.

District Attorney Tommy Smith said the indictment returned Friday alleged that the 44-year-old Northport woman had failed to "directly supervise" Moore "during a dangerous, out-of-air emergency ascent" at a university pool in Tuscaloosa.

Moore, 21, of Fairhope, died from an air embolism, authorities had said previously.

An embolism typically is caused by the expansion of gases in the lungs when a diver rises to the surface without exhaling enough. Officials at the time said Moore ascended too quickly and didn't exhale to release air from his lungs.

Gibson was free on a $5,000 bond after surrendering to authorities. She could face up to a year in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor charge. A defense attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

No court date was set.

University spokeswoman Cathy Andreen said Gibson was a certified scuba instructor who had worked under a
contract with the school. She said the scuba class has since been discontinued.

A student who was in another class taught by Gibson said the drill that led to Moore's death involved jumping in the water with scuba gear, removing it at the bottom and slowly rising to the surface while exhaling regularly. Gibson often said "bubble" to remind students to exhale, said senior Alex Stallings.

"That was the main point that she always made," Stallings told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I felt like she was a good teacher."

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