Missing Diver in Tacoma (Nov 2006)

General banter about diving and why we love it.
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lamont
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Post by lamont »

Curt McNamee wrote: John- Thank you very much for taking the time to put your very wise comments on this site regarding this accident. I hope everyone reads your post and believes your words.

There are many good technical diving instructors in the local area that can train for this type of diving. Please, Please, Please, seek that training out if you want to do this sort of diving.
unfortunately, the people who really need to get this message aren't reading this or any other board.
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Post by Sounder »

There are only so many people one can help. We all appreciate everyone's advice and comments here.

I also strongly agree with DiverDown - the way this group respectfully discussed this event speaks volume for the kind of people here. In my short experience reading and posting on boards, I've already seen harsh comments and outright attacks on the victim and others who are discussing those events. It's not constructive and, in my opinion, doesn't help anyone. This board is different and I really appreciate everyone here.

Erica and I are really looking forward to meeting many of you at Hood Canal. This is a great group of friends and quality dive buddies.
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Post by BASSMAN »

I recently spoke with a friend of one of the divers in the group of divers That was diving that day.

He said, "Everything was done just like it was supposed to have been done, when two of the divers lost contact wth thier buddies during the ascent from 200', they looked around for one minute or so and then surfaced" "At the surface they realized that someone was still missing and one went back down to help, he just never made it back up"As Mr Rawlings put it, there was many mistakes made log before a rescue attempt was made.

Thanks John, you have said what needs to be said.
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Post by lamont »

BASSMAN wrote:I recently spoke with a friend of one of the divers in the group of divers That was diving that day.

He said, "Everything was done just like it was supposed to have been done, when two of the divers lost contact wth thier buddies during the ascent from 200', they looked around for one minute or so and then surfaced" "At the surface they realized that someone was still missing and one went back down to help, he just never made it back up"
The problem with that statement is that trying to apply OW diving protocols to technical level dives doesn't work. Before divers are going to 200 feet they simply shouldn't be losing their buddies.

And going back down for a buddy and bounce diving following a dive to 200 fsw is a great way to shunt bubbles and get a really nasty type 2 hit as well. Going back down to chase after lost buddies is something that can work on OW recreational dives and should not generally be done on technical level dives (unless you're doing something like shuttling more deco gas and you can take the time to deco out the bubbles...)
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Post by Grateful Diver »

Actually, the real problem with that statement is that it's repeating what they were told by the instructor who was involved.

Earlier today I spent more than 40 minutes on the phone with Chad's brother in law. I hope that our conversation clarified some things for him. He is involved in the ongoing investigation, and has spoken to all of the people involved, including the instructor.

First off, the instructor ... Dave Graddon ... told the family that Chad had plenty of air to do this dive, and that a lack of air wasn't the issue. Since Dave was Chad's instructor, and is so experienced, they believed him.

The family is familiar with Dave, and knew that Chad had a close relationship with him ... in effect, that Chad viewed Dave as a mentor and friend. So, not knowing anything about basic safety protocols, they are willing to believe that Dave planned and executed this dive properly.

Some other things I learned.

There were six people on this dive ... buddy teams were Chad and John, a couple (Cathy and ???), Dave and Steve.

Note the last buddy team ... Dave and Steve.

Steve was the inexperienced diver who Chad went back down to rescue because he was on his hands and knees on the bottom at 211 feet. Chad's last act was to drop his weights and send him on a buoyant ascent to the surface. Steve's dive buddy ... Dave ... the instructor ... was not present at the time.

Their "gas plan" was for each team to carry one "shared" pony bottle, in case anyone ran out of air. John had the one for their team ... but when Chad went back down, they became separated.

Dave ... the instructor ... was carrying the pony bottle that his buddy might have needed while he was crawling around on the bottom. But Dave wasn't there when his dive buddy needed rescuing.

Steve spent the night in the hyperbaric chamber at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tacoma ... as did Chad's dive buddy John. I guess all I can say about that is thank God he didn't embolise doing a buoyant ascent from over 200 feet.

There was a memorial service for Chad last Friday. I can't imagine the pain his family is going through, not even having Chad there so they could properly say good-bye. I feel so bad for them. But the more I learn about this accident (if you can call it that), the angrier I get that an instructor could be so irresponsible. And it seems that he still doesn't bloody get it that he did something so stupidly wrong ... and that he basically killed someone who trusted him.

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
Last edited by Grateful Diver on Sun Nov 19, 2006 6:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Sergeant Pepper »

Again, as I started this thread... how sobering and depressing. I can't begin to imagine ....
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Post by Tangfish »

As much as I hesitate to say anything about this accident, other than offering my condolences to the family and friends of Chad, I cannot conceive of a single scenario in which this instructor could be considered to have been conducting anything but the most reckless and unacceptable dive practices.

Based on what you say GD: if Dave Graddon is ever allowed to 'educate' another diver, or to plan or lead another dive - then we as a dive community have failed.
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Post by Tangfish »

Reading up on SB yields this post, from a family member of Chad's:
Chad was a Great guy and a member of my Family. His brother Craig is married to my sister and is also my business partner. Chad also worked for us. He was always smiling and never had a complaint or a bad thing to say about ANYONE. He got his NAUI certification from Dave Graddon who he also considered a friend. I was at the dive site the day after he was missing and met most of the people he dove with. I have heard the story of what happened by most and it seems to be a little different by each. The Tacoma Police have detectives working on this case. The family would like closure in this by getting his body recovered if possible, BUT ****ONLY if it is done safely by divers trained to go that deep and with the proper equipment****. We don't want anyone else to lose their life because we know Chad would not want that. The memorial service for Chad Geoghegan yesterday was very hard, but I saw how many people he had touched in his 27 years of life.


The matter of the Instructor who was diving with them in their group. He was the person who certified and trained Chad. We know he looked up to him and he would take this persons word as he had alot of diving knowledge. What I know for FACT, is that the Sherriff Search & Rescue Team Leader told me that they didn't have the right gear to do this dive... ie. AL 80's. Only Chad and his good friend John had the AL 80's. The rest were using bigger or high pressure rigs. When I confronted Dave Graddon about this he told me straight out that "They all had plenty of air and that wasn't the problem" He also told me that "Most diving accidents like this they don't find a body". These statements greatly disturbed me. I have since been doing alot of research on diving like this and came across this post. I used to be a Private Investigator and consider this my personal mission to find out what REALLY happened to Chad that night. I have also heard that this Instructor lost another person at this spot 3 years ago.

If anyone has info on the this incident or the one 3 years ago, or any info at all. Please call me, I'm not sure when I will get a chance to check this post again.


I would also like to hear from Grateful Diver as it sounds like you may be of some help to me.



Thank you all for your well wishes to the family of Chad.....





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Post by Joshua Smith »

Calvin Tang wrote:As much as I hesitate to say anything about this accident, other than offering my condolences to the family and friends of Chad, I cannot conceive of a single scenario in which this instructor could be considered to have been conducting anything but the most reckless and unacceptable dive practices.

Based on what you say GD: if Dave Graddon is ever allowed to 'educate' another diver, or to plan or lead another dive - then we as a dive community have failed.
Yeah. I seriously think criminal charges should be brought, and even if that doesn't pan out, a civil action seems mandatory- I do hope Chad's family is considering it.
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Post by Tangfish »

Right now, googling Dave Graddon's name brings up nil. I'm not shying away from the use of his name at all - since at the very least the history of these two accidents he was involved with should be made available to any future divers wishing to look him up. If even a single hesitant student/diver finds either this thread or one on the other boards, it will be worth it for them to know what this guy's history is prior to diving with him or learning from him.

I'm all for being understanding of people's mistakes, but as I said earlier, I don't know how an instructor could do this... let alone twice.
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Post by sparky »

Wow !!!

I can only add that if GD is this upset you can bet there is something realy wrong here I have known Bob as long as I have been diving and in the years I have known himm I have never seen him slam a nother diver let a lone a instructor

and to see him lay in to this one is a real eye opner for me at least
grate thing about BOB he wont sugar coat it for you

thanks Bob I hear you I am with you on this one 100%

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Post by Sergeant Pepper »

Twice, if that's true ... wow.
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Post by Pinkpadigal »

I know Dave...

He is good with students and is very likeable, especially when people first meet him. He can be charming and is the life of a party.

He became a Naui instructor in November 2003. He had been diving for many years before and had also worked as a commercial diver. He worked as a divemaster for me in the summer of 2003.

I know him as someone who drinks WAY too much, and he has been know to drink and dive. He is in his mid thirties, yet parties like he is a college student. That was the main reason I ended my association with him.

He is irresponsible, and he has stole items from people he has worked for. I have had people talk to me in the past because they were "looking for him" because he had things that belonged to them and Dave had not returned. He was terminated from Lighthouse for theft in October.

I have a customer who was certified by him 2 years ago. Dave did not mail in his certification paperwork. For months, this person called Dave, trying to get this straighten out. Nothing happened. Finally, (after about a year) this person called Naui. Dave had not paid his instructor fees or renewed his insurance. Luckily, the student had saved all his materials, and was able to send his stuff into NAUI and NAUI took care of him. The manager of Lighthouse did tell me before he hired him that Dave had renewed everything last spring though.

I have heard stories of Dave being involved in diving accidents and also he has risked his life to save people. I am not sure what is truth or lore. However, he had nothing to do with the accident 3 years ago at Lobstershop Wall. When I have seen him in the water, he was a good divemaster, a good diver but he likes to push things to the limits and forgets about others' safety.

I have talked to several charter operators who say the same thing about him. He is a "cowboy" diver" that takes chances when he shouldn't. As I said in an earlier post, Dave knew better, and the odds were stacked against him that something like this would happen.

While I do not have any respect for Dave as a diver or an instructor, I know he never meant for anyone to get hurt and he is dealing with a lot of grief.
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Post by dsteding »

Pinkpadigal wrote:I know Dave...

***

When I have seen him in the water, he was a good divemaster, a good diver but he likes to push things to the limits and forgets about others' safety.

I have talked to several charter operators who say the same thing about him. He is a "cowboy" diver" that takes chances when he shouldn't. As I said in an earlier post, Dave knew better, and the odds were stacked against him that something like this would happen.
Thanks for the insight, I for one am glad to see people like Bob get involved in this and not sit on their hands. Too many times in life people stand by idly while something is going on right under their noses, unfortunately it took a fatality to bring this type of behavior into the spotlight, but let's hope we all end up with a safer dive community as a result, and that accidents of this nature never happen in Puget Sound again.

I understand that you are providing some background on this guy, but that above passage doesn't jive for me. How can he be considered "a good diver" if he has a disregard for other's safety? To me, one of the central tenants of being a good diver is a strong regard for not only your own safety but the safety of those you dive with. Based on Bob's description of the dive, this guy did not have that. I think what you meant here was a "skilled" diver, please correct me if I am wrong.

I have very little sympathy for those that endanger others through their own selfish acts, it sounds like the combination of this guy's charisma and his own problems and disregard for other's safety was a proximate cause of this tragic accident.
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Post by Pinkpadigal »

I stand corrected...you are right. He was a "skilled" diver.

As for Dave's behavior, he had a reputation within the community for being reckless, and for drinking too much (aka "Budweiser Dave"). Those who knew him well would not dive with him.

However, we are all adults and as certified divers, if something doesn't feel or look safe, it probably isn't. All of those people who went diving with Dave that night saw the weather, knew the water conditions, the dive profile and understood there are risks involved when diving deep. While Dave was in charge, each and every diver in the group must take responisbility for their actions as well. They were not diving with enough air, nor were they trained for this "bounce" dive. While this does not let Dave "off the hook" he is not solely responsible for this horrible accident. While Dave should have been the voice of reason and the "parent" in this situation, each person had a personal responsibilty to dive within their limitations.
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Post by Sergeant Pepper »

Pinkpadigal wrote: ... I know he never meant for anyone to get hurt and he is dealing with a lot of grief.
I can't imagine the grief, and probably couldn't take it myself. As I said earlier in the post, these are the times we should all take stock of the little things that we do for ourselves and others during a dive to ensure safety. I love diving, but I love my family more and wish to return from the water every time to see them. Be good dive buddies.
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Post by Dogboy »

I have been reading several boards about this tragic incident since it occurred and first off wish to extend my deepest condolences to Chad's family. I only met Chad and Amy once. This was at my son's OW check out dives at Redondo. Dave was my son's instructor also, and had combined Chad and Amy's dives with my son's. In our brief encounter, Chad seemed to be a wonderful young man. At that time, I was not yet back into diving, but am now very grateful that I have returned, because what happened to Chad could have very easily have happened to my son. Once finished with his open water, my son was supposed to continue his training with Dave up through Divemaster. On his first dive with Dave (a "fun" dive), having just completed OW the weekend before, I find out that Dave takes my son to 110 ft! This is with a brand new, just certified, no experience diver. Of course it was no big thing to my son (what 18 year old isn't "invincible"), but concerned his mother and me greatly. I started diving again and became my son's regular dive partner. I also began to hear rumblings about Dave's history and troubles, and it also coincided with Dave losing his job at that time (he and my son both worked for the same company- non Scuba related), and Dave just "disappeared". Luckily, my son had not prepaid him for all of the classes he was suppossed to get. My son was the student PinkPADIgal was talking about regarding the difficulty my son had getting his C-card. Dave never submitted his paperwork before his instructor status expired, and he had not renewed it and his neccesary insurance, so was technically no longer certified to teach. NAUI was very understanding and took care of it.

On a side note, last weekend after a dive, I ran into another instructor that I have known for years. This topic came up, and he made the comment that he had wanted to warn us about Dave 2 years ago when my son first started classes from him, but hadn't said anything. Why are instuctors afraid to warn people? Is it a sense of professional courtesy, a fear of being labeled a "back stabber", or something else?

Again, my condolences to the family.
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Post by Grateful Diver »

Dogboy wrote: On a side note, last weekend after a dive, I ran into another instructor that I have known for years. This topic came up, and he made the comment that he had wanted to warn us about Dave 2 years ago when my son first started classes from him, but hadn't said anything. Why are instuctors afraid to warn people? Is it a sense of professional courtesy, a fear of being labeled a "back stabber", or something else?

Again, my condolences to the family.
Chuck W.
Part of it is professional courtesy ... another (perhaps larger) part is fear of getting dragged into a defamation claim.

In this case, I think the importance of keeping impressionable divers informed of a potentially dangerous individual outweighs any other concerns ... a pity it took a death for us, as a community, to make that decision.

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
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Post by Tangfish »

having just completed OW the weekend before, I find out that Dave takes my son to 110 ft! This is with a brand new, just certified, no experience diver.
I just can't figure this guy out. Why the rush? Why tempt fate (or probability)? If someone has nothing but a long, rewarding life of diving ahead of them... why push them to 110' so quickly? There's plenty of time to learn to do that. There's also a reason OW divers are certified to 60'.

](*,)

If there's one thing that was impressed upon me from the very first dive (with my good friend and OW/AOW instructor) it was a uncompromising respect for the sea and the potentially lethal consequences of being an ignorant diver. I was a timid, even fearful diver at the outset, gaining confidence in concomitance with my accumulation of knowledge and experience. Hopefully, your son can unlearn some of the 'brave' attitude he started out with, as a result of learning from this instructor.

From the sounds of it, Dave seems to enjoy instilling a sense of (for lack of a better term) 'dick swinging' into his students. Challenging them to push themselves beyond the limits of common sense (not to mention, the limits set by certifying agencies). What is the point? Who stands to gain anything by the proliferation of such dive practices?
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Post by diver-dad »

Now I don't know any of the people involved here, and I have purposely kept out of the discussions until now principally for that reason - particularly in the early stages when the real details of what happened had not been uncovered ...

ARMCHAIR PSYCHOLOGIST ALERT!!! ....

However, as I read over the postings, particularly the latest ones, I am reminded that there are those people who like to live life on the edge. BASE jumpers vs. regular skydivers are a good example. A short visit to MySpace or other video sharing web sites will quickly show how people, particularly young ones, will do really insane things for a thrill and the 15 seconds of notariety they will get from a really "good" video. (The internet has reduced Andy Warhol's classic "15 minutes of fame" down to about 15 seconds - Boomers will know what I mean.)

"Adrenaline junkies," "thrill seekers," call them what you will, along with the experience they feel, they sometimes will elicit participation by others: partially to validate their ambitions, partially to obtain kinship, partially to get an audience that will admire them. The trouble is that young and inexperienced people feel invincible and are suseptible to buy-in, not infrequently leading to tragedy. (Remember when your Mom would ask "just because your friends jump off a roof - you want to do it too?"- trouble is, today that literally happens.)

Hey, I like the thrill of some of what I do (aggressively skiiing the fall line, a good rollercoaster ride, etc) and I am far from a stick-in-the-mud, but the difference is that I manage my risk to reasonable levels, and know what rules I can not violate. After all, I have a wife and 2 kids to think about too.

Thanks for letting me vent. I find this whole mess really frustrating.
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Post by Grateful Diver »

diver-dad wrote:Now I don't know any of the people involved here, and I have purposely kept out of the discussions until now principally for that reason - particularly in the early stages when the real details of what happened had not been uncovered ...

ARMCHAIR PSYCHOLOGIST ALERT!!! ....

However, as I read over the postings, particularly the latest ones, I am reminded that there are those people who like to live life on the edge. BASE jumpers vs. regular skydivers are a good example. A short visit to MySpace or other video sharing web sites will quickly show how people, particularly young ones, will do really insane things for a thrill and the 15 seconds of notariety they will get from a really "good" video. (The internet has reduced Andy Warhol's classic "15 minutes of fame" down to about 15 seconds - Boomers will know what I mean.)

"Adrenaline junkies," "thrill seekers," call them what you will, along with the experience they feel, they sometimes will elicit participation by others: partially to validate their ambitions, partially to obtain kinship, partially to get an audience that will admire them. The trouble is that young and inexperienced people feel invincible and are suseptible to buy-in, not infrequently leading to tragedy. (Remember when your Mom would ask "just because your friends jump off a roof - you want to do it too?"- trouble is, today that literally happens.)

Hey, I like the thrill of some of what I do (aggressively skiiing the fall line, a good rollercoaster ride, etc) and I am far from a stick-in-the-mud, but the difference is that I manage my risk to reasonable levels, and know what rules I can not violate. After all, I have a wife and 2 kids to think about too.

Thanks for letting me vent. I find this whole mess really frustrating.
I think we all recognize that there will always be those sorts in any recreational activity. With respect to scuba, they should not be instructors ... for reasons we see discussed in this thread. The instructor/student relationship simply places too much of a burden of trust on an instructor for him or her to be someone who encourages their students to push the envelope. Incidents like this one are the inevitable outcome.

Responsible divers recognize that there's nothing wrong with "pushing the envelope" ... but that doing so in a sensible manner requires lots of training, practice, and planning. There are no shortcuts ...

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
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Post by diver-dad »

Grateful Diver wrote:... they should not be instructors ... The instructor/student relationship simply places too much of a burden of trust on an instructor for him or her to be someone who encourages their students to push the envelope. Incidents like this one are the inevitable outcome. ..... Responsible divers recognize that there's nothing wrong with "pushing the envelope" ... but that doing so in a sensible manner requires lots of training, practice, and planning. There are no shortcuts ...
Exactly right.
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Post by Cera »

I know we are kind-of getting off track with this thread, but I have come to realize that the thrill seekers often become instructors.. Its like the next step for them to gain recognition.
Back to what Amy says, I think that if any blame can be put on the students it is minute... like uncle ben says, "with great power comes great responsibility"... It is always the instructors job to ensure the saftey of those who he is diving with, for, or around. That is part of the reason why instructors are liable if they are even present during an accident.
And what was mentioned earlier about a person not telling customers or students that another instructor is bad.. that is a tough thing to do for many reasons one of which being because it makes you look unprofessional (which does not matter if the students are in danger) .
I really wish there were stricter regulations for dive professionals!
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Post by lamont »

part of the problem here is also that its scuba diving and the dangers in scuba diving are nowhere near as obvious as rock climbing or snowboarding. we all intuitively understand gravity and momentum and even a novice can come to some kind of estimation about the relative difficulty in those sports. with scuba diving you can't feel the weight of the whole water column other than very subtle effects. its very easy for people to come into the sport and not have a good gauge of how difficult any given dive is and to rely heavily on their mentors to help them with risk assessment. that places newer divers (and 150 dives is still a newer diver) at the mercy of their instructors/mentors...
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Post by Joshua Smith »

lamont wrote: that places newer divers (and 150 dives is still a newer diver) at the mercy of their instructors/mentors...
Point(s) taken, but I only have 100 dives, and I know damn well not to dive to 200 on an AL80. I seem to have better mentors than the deceased, however.
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