Alki Accident - Please Update

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Peter Guy
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by Peter Guy »

Thanks Bob and mer -- We do need to know what has happened so that we can try to prevent them from happening again. Can anyone come up with a "teaching point" from this incident? I don't think I can -- unless it's -- Don't dive beyond your abilities.
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Nwbrewer
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by Nwbrewer »

Sounds like "Don't Panic" is about it. Very sad set of circumstances.
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lurch
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by lurch »

Nwbrewer wrote:Sounds like "Don't Panic" is about it. Very sad set of circumstances.
Stop, Breath, Think, Act.

Not much I can say except well wishes to the surviving family, friends and the rescuers.
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CaptnJack
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by CaptnJack »

Nwbrewer wrote:Sounds like "Don't Panic" is about it. Very sad set of circumstances.
Does anyone know if his tank had gas remaining? Generally speaking, people don't panic on the way up when all is in ordnung. Past incidents (at Alki and elsewhere) have shown that people often panic and bolt for the surface when they run out of gas.

I am proud that the rescuers did their best for him (and avoided getting hurt themselves) given their limited resources.
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by Grateful Diver »

I do not think gas was the issue. I'm basing that on the report that they turned the dive when the first diver hit 1500 psi. That should've keft them plenty for a safe return.

We really don't know what caused him to bolt ... but what we do know is that this was a very inexperienced diver, recently certified AOW. Chances are it was a combination of narcosis, lack of experience, and probably what a more experienced diver might consider something minor ... like a leaking mask ... that pushed stress into the panic zone.

If someone's looking for lessons, perhaps one that can be based on what we DO know is simply this ... don't put too much emphasis on depth. Bagging that 100-foot dive is important to a lot of new divers ... and it'll probably be OK as long as nothing goes wrong. But for most of us, it takes a while to learn HOW to stop, think, and act ... and 100 feet down isn't the place to get that kind of experience. Little things build up fast at 100 feet ... and an inexperienced diver will be so wrapped up in the mechanics of the dive, they're likely to miss clues that a more experienced diver would use to avoid a stressful situation. Stress isn't our friend underwater ... it leads to distress, and then to panic. It's a natural progression ... we're hard-wired that way. It's what's kept the species alive all these millenia. But underwater it can be deadly. Our brains need time to adapt ... and that takes dives. Most folks, at less than 15 dives, have no business at 100 feet ... not even with an instructor.

Again, there is no intent on my part to speculate what actually occurred to this young man. But someone asked what we can take away from it? My take is that it's the exceptional diver who is mentally equipped to go on a 100-foot dive with less than 15 dives. Most of us ... and that includes me when I was that new ... would be taking a great risk at that depth, because we simply would not have the facility to deal with a routine equipment issue without getting unduly stressed about it.

Slow down ... enjoy what there is to enjoy at the shallower depths. Get comfortable with what you're doing ... practice your basic skills till you can do them routinely. THEN get the additional training for the deeper dives.

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
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H20doctor
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by H20doctor »

Prep and communicate before the dive... And always be alert during the dive for you and your dive partner. Cause its going to be your partner or those around you who can help when the brain goes into panic or narc... Diving is a mental sport and I am sad that another person lost there life to it.. Always have a dive plan and be safe
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BASSMAN
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by BASSMAN »

laivindil wrote: Stop, Breath, Think, Act.
I think that says it best.

But some how that did not really sink in untill I was actually doing my Rescue Diver course.
I'm sure it must have been mentioned in my OW class, but I must have been thinking about all of the other things one has to lthink about during an OW course.
Tom Nic once told me;
"It's something that can apply in so many other areas in our lives."

My prayers go out to this divers family and friends.


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Nwbrewer
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by Nwbrewer »

H20doctor wrote:Prep and communicate before the dive... And always be alert during the dive for you and your dive partner. Cause its going to be your partner or those around you who can help when the brain goes into panic or narc... Diving is a mental sport and I am sad that another person lost there life to it.. Always have a dive plan and be safe
This works well if you trust your buddy, if you have confidence in your basic skills. If you're not 100% confident in your ability to do airshares with your buddy, go practice. That way, when things do go sideways, you're ready to deal with it, it's routine. If you're LOA, you should be thinking, Ok, time to share some air, not time to bolt for the surface, but this is what Bob was talking about with new divers for the most part not being mentally equiped to go to 100'.

Bob, they turned the dive at 1500, but is that when they headed for the surface? How deep were they at that 1500psi mark and on what kind of tank? I'll make the assumtion that since they were newer divers, that they were using al80's. For new divers on an al80, out from shore a ways at ~100fsw, 1500psi may be very unconservative. It depends largely on topography of the site. At someplace like mukilteo, where you're gonna start upslope immediately, I'd say 1500 is fine for turning from 80' or so. Not true if you're at some place like redondo, where I know from experience, you can spend a looonggg time kicking at 80' before you ever start upslope. For me, 1500psi in an al80 with a new diver, who may be a little narced and a little stressed at 80', that's leave the bottom for the surface time, not swim accross slope or follow a gently countour time. My "new divers" rock bottom numbers actually put them behind the curve at 80 fsw with 1500psi in an al80. Giving the benefit of a HP100, they would be at RB at 80fsw. I wouldn't try this dive with a new diver on an al80, and an HP100 would be marginal. Maybe that's just me.
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by Grateful Diver »

Nwbrewer wrote: Bob, they turned the dive at 1500, but is that when they headed for the surface? How deep were they at that 1500psi mark and on what kind of tank? I'll make the assumtion that since they were newer divers, that they were using al80's. For new divers on an al80, out from shore a ways at ~100fsw, 1500psi may be very unconservative. It depends largely on topography of the site. At someplace like mukilteo, where you're gonna start upslope immediately, I'd say 1500 is fine for turning from 80' or so. Not true if you're at some place like redondo, where I know from experience, you can spend a looonggg time kicking at 80' before you ever start upslope. For me, 1500psi in an al80 with a new diver, who may be a little narced and a little stressed at 80', that's leave the bottom for the surface time, not swim accross slope or follow a gently countour time. My "new divers" rock bottom numbers actually put them behind the curve at 80 fsw with 1500psi in an al80. Giving the benefit of a HP100, they would be at RB at 80fsw. I wouldn't try this dive with a new diver on an al80, and an HP100 would be marginal. Maybe that's just me.
I got another e-mail from my source that suggests his cylinder was empty ... they were unable to inflate his BCD or drysuit, which is why they dumped it. Given the depth at which he was found, this suggests to me that either he turned the dive too late, or they were deeper than 100 feet when they turned it. Most likely scenario is that he ran out of air, bolted to the surface, held his breath, and embolized. That would also account for him sinking back to the bottom after passing out. Purely speculation, based on what I've been told by people who were there or were involved in the rescue, but a plausible theory of what happened.

Jake, as you know, I do not recommend that anyone go deep on an AL80 ... and I have no idea what size cylinder he was using. What I do know is that he was a pretty new diver, and most new divers go through their air pretty quickly. This is one reason I recommend people get more experience before they experiment with deep. Also, you need bottom time and practice to sublimate that "instinct" to bolt for the surface in an emergency ... especially an OOA, since the natural response if you don't actively think about it will be to hold your breath on the way up.

I agree with you ... I would not do this dive on an AL80. I'm not even sure I'd recommend it on a 100. It'd depend on the diver. This is why I have my students calculate their actual consumption based on a dive plan before I ever take them on their AOW deep dive ... there have been times when consumption and rock bottom calcs recommended a 119 or larger, even for a routine dive to the I-beams. Depends on the divers involved.

Unfortunately, too many divers don't get that stuff in their AOW class ... they get a puzzle. Butt lot of good that's gonna do if they go too deep and suddenly realize they don't have enough air to get back safely.

Please understand that I am not blaming this diver ... I don't know what he was taught, or what the specifics of his dive plan were. I DO know that too many new divers set their priorities on going deep ... often well before they're adequately prepared for it. And as long as everything goes right, they'll be OK. But if something goes wrong ... will they be prepared to deal with it safely? Sometimes not.

My advice to new divers contemplating deep dives ... ask yourself a few questions ...

- Why do I want to go?
- Do I know what the risks are?
- Have I prepared adequately to deal with them?
- Do I have the skills to handle an emergency?
- Am I diving with a buddy who can handle this dive safely?

Be honest with your self-assessment ... and with that of your buddy. Don't let concern for "ruining your buddy's good time" factor into your answers ... the best way to ruin a dive buddy's good time is to put them in a situation where they have to rescue you ... or recover your body.

If you have any hesitancy coming up with appropriate answers to those questions, you're not ready to go deep yet. Be patient ... diving isn't the place to be taking shortcuts to achieve your goals.

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
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Nwbrewer
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by Nwbrewer »

I know your philosophy and rules of thumb, that's why I was curious as to why you thought GM wasn't the issue. 1500psi turn on a deep dive al80 sounded like GM WAS a factor.









Edit: Removed double negative.
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by Grateful Diver »

Nwbrewer wrote:I know your philosophy and rules of thumb, that's why I was curious as to why you thought GM wasn't the issue. 1500psi turn on a deep dive al80 sounded like GM WAS a factor.

Edit: Removed double negative.
Well, what I said was that it was unlikely he had run out of air ... which turns out to have been a likely factor in any case. I based that comment on the information I had available at the time. Perhaps that information wasn't accurate. I don't know. From what I learned this morning, it is likely that he DID run out of air, which suggests that either they went deeper than previously thought or he didn't turn the dive at 1500.

To respond to your comment ... I didn't say anything about whether or not gas management was the issue ... I'm not going to get into that discussion on this thread. I'm trying to present facts, without speculation ... otherwise, this discussion will quickly turn into blamestorming. This isn't the place to have that conversation.

If you want to have a discussion on how to manage gas properly for a planned deep dive, I think that'd be a good topic to start a new thread to talk about.

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
Last edited by Grateful Diver on Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Sounder
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by Sounder »

Grateful Diver wrote: My advice to new divers contemplating deep dives ... ask yourself a few questions ...

- Why do I want to go?
- Do I know what the risks are?
- Have I prepared adequately to deal with them?
- Do I have the skills to handle an emergency?
- Am I diving with a buddy who can handle this dive safely?

Be honest with your self-assessment ... and with that of your buddy. Don't let concern for "ruining your buddy's good time" factor into your answers ... the best way to ruin a dive buddy's good time is to put them in a situation where they have to rescue you ... or recover your body.
Unfortunately, here lays the curse of divers often "don't know what they don't know." So they may be completely honest with themselves in answering these questions and they may believe they really ARE prepared when they're not.

If you're not positive, ask someone who you are sure knows the answers... someone like Grateful Diver (there are many folks on this board - I just used him as he's an example of a resource in this thread) is an example of the caliber of person who can help you determine whether you do, in fact, actually KNOW what you need to know to answer these questions.

BUT, no matter how you slice it you're going to have people who think they're skills are better than they actually are. You're going to have people who believe they're safe diving solo with less than 30 dives, that they're safe diving below 100fsw with an 80cf tank, that they have the emergency skills to handle whatever can come at them, and that they don't need to listen to the "preachers" who may be telling them something they don't want to hear. If someone doesn't want to hear something, they're not going to listen.

I'm not saying that my comments are reflective of the incident in question. Rather, I'm just pointing out that some people may not have the experience to make an accurate determination of whether they're prepared for a certain dive or not, and that they should seek advice from experienced resources. Mentoring is huge in this regard and I was extremely fortunate to have had such amazing mentors.
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by Grateful Diver »

To some degree or another, almost everyone believes their skills are better than they really are ... human nature and ignorance are the usual culprits.

You can only ever really know by testing your limits ... which is something most classes really suck at.

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
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dwashbur
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by dwashbur »

- Why do I want to go?
This, IMAO (In My Arrogant Opinion) is the most important question. If there's something at that depth that I just HAVE to see for whatever reason, then maybe it's a legitimate depth to shoot for. If it's just for the sake of going that deep, dump that idea at once. It's not worth it. I have close to 200 dives. I've been to 100 feet 2 or 3 times, all at Alki, and for my money, there wasn't a damn thing to see down there. The good critters are above that depth, and some of the best are above 25 feet. It comes back to the question of why one dives in the first place: to prove something, or to see an incredible world of life and beauty?

Like Bob, I'm not saying anything about this particular diver. I don't know why he was down there or why he was diving at all and am certainly in no position to judge. But someone asked about lessons we can take, and for me this is a big one.
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TCWestby
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Re: Alki Accident - Please Update

Post by TCWestby »

Thanks for the report, another huge tragedy.
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