Ex-instructor charged in UA studentís scuba death

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Posted by on July 29, 2008 at 22:44:42:

In Reply to: Scuba instructor charged in student's death posted by Wayne on July 29, 2008 at 20:46:09:

TUSCALOOSA | A former scuba instructor at the University of Alabama has been charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of one of her students during class last year.

Allison Rainey Gibson, 44, turned herself in to authorities Friday after being indicted by a grand jury last month.

Student Zachary Moore, 21, died from an air embolism in April 2007. Moore apparently ascended to the surface of the pool at the UA Aquatic Center too quickly and didnít exhale to release some of the air in his lungs, officials said at the time. That assessment was confirmed by the autopsy report.

ďThey felt obviously that there was negligence on the part of the instructor that rose to a criminal level,Ē said Capt. Loyd Baker, commander of the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit.

A junior from Fairhope, Moore was a member of Theta Chi fraternity and was taking business classes. UA stopped offering the scuba class after his death, said UA spokeswoman Cathy Andreen. Gibson was contracted to work for the university, Andreen said, and no longer teaches there.

Criminally negligent homicide is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Court records provide no information about what evidence the grand jury heard before deciding to indict Gibson. According to the indictment, members of the grand jury believed that Gibson failed to directly supervise Moore as he performed the dangerous exercise.

An air embolism occurs after air bubbles form in the bloodstream and stop blood from reaching vital organs. They occur in scuba accidents because divers are breathing pressurized air.

About 20 members of the beginning scuba class were participating in an exercise in which they dove to the bottom of the pool, left their equipment on the bottom and ascended back to the surface.

Wayne Williams, an attorney representing Gibson, did not return a call Monday seeking comment.

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