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Thread: Write Up of Near Death in Monterey

 


  1. #91
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    Although many have said this is a one-sided account, I'm sure that a lot of details came from Mr. Cassell's girlfriend, as well as his own experience. In other words, not only did Scott see the instructor deny her attempt at using the octo, his girlfriend related the same experience because luckily, she lived. He wrote the article enough time after the incident to get his girlfriend's perspective which is probably an experience she will never forget. I can imagine that she remembers every minute detail. I'm sure she felt she was being drowned and was being prevented from doing anything to help herself. The fact is, this woman nearly died and if she had continued to be held under water, she would have died. I believe this instructor followed protocol to keep a diver down to prevent rapid ascent and possible lung embolism. I can see where the instructor would have only seen her removing her primary and not seeing that she was attempting to use her octo by shoving her primary back into her mouth. Thus, in his mind he was trying to prevent a drowning. He was closer to her so he could have missed it. But deliberately knocking it away? It may have seemed like it, but Scott's girlfriend may have been struggling and had the octo knocked away accidentally. Scott was further away and could see it happening and certainly his girlfriend knew what she was trying to do. Where the instructor failed was - to recognize that the diver was having difficulty with the primary and was taking in water through the primary, panicking and already starting to drown. Scott described the drowning signs he was familiar with because he has seen it before, perhaps this instructor had not. Someone had to get her to the surface and it wasn't going to be the instructor. I don't think anyone will deny that as a fact. If the instructor had been correct in his actions, Scott's girlfriend would not have wound-up in the hospital fighting for her life. Scott seemed to be aware that he should allow the instructors to do their jobs and did not want to interfere and agreed to keep his distance. This was not a macho boyfriend who knew better than the instructors. But what do you do when things just don't seem right? He wants us all to learn this lesson. Where do you draw the line between being macho and being aware?

    At a minimum, you have to say that there was a failure on the part of the instructor to be fully aware of what was happening to his student. Because the fact is - he was right there in front of her and she nearly died in the hospital. He did not take her to the surface and it would appear that neither instructor assisted in the rescue.

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    Near Death Diving Instruction Accident at Monterey Breakwater (Dec 15, 2013)

    Hello Fellow Divers,
    Ever since my girlfriend, Kerry, nearly died in Monterey on Dec 15th at the hands of two dive instructors I have tried to shield her from further damage both physical and emotional. But Kerry has felt compelled to come forward and make a heart-felt statement to the dive community. While I admire her courage, I worry about her. Except for a short break of a few days she has awakened each night for three months in a cold sweat, sobbing, and trembling from dreams of suffocation and being held underwater struggling for her life while she drowns. These men hurt her, but seven wonderful divers... strangers... brave and selfless men jumped into the water to help me save her life. As with any community, there are good and bad people and shades in between. On December 15, I saw both in stark contrast. I will always be grateful to those that leapt selflessly into action to help a stranger. Thank you so very much!!!

    Kerry went through hell. She inhaled easily enough water to kill her. Once at the ER, she was placed in a coma, intubated, lungs suctioned and placed on life-support while I watched. It was the longest night of my life. To be clear to all, I stand behind the article I wrote for California Diver and I also stand behind her need to attempt to clear up possible misconceptions regarding her motives and actions since the incident.

    We want to know, unequivocally, that these two instructors will not harm other unsuspecting students. Kerry and I pray no one else EVER has to go through what she has gone through (and continues to suffer greatly from).

    I have nothing to gain from all of this and I almost lost everything... but in my opinion I have already won the important battle. The girl I love is alive!

    My motivations are simple. I do not want others harmed by these two instructors and I have a duty to act since I saw the series of events occur. I want Kerry to not be burdened with the mounting out-of-pocket medical bills... and finally, I intend to protect the woman I love from further damage.

    Please take good care when choosing an instructor. Ask around and find out what kind of people they are. We did not... and Kerry ended up on life-support.
    Kerry and I wish everyone safe and joyful dives. Bless you all.

    Scott

    The following is Kerry's message. -
    _____________________________________
    Hello,


    I was the student diver involved in the near drowning during an open water certification dive on 12/15/2012 at the Monterey Breakwater.
    I decided to come out in the open as there was some question as to why I wanted to remain semi-private as I was healing both physically and emotionally. Many victims of trauma look for ways to 'disappear' in one form or another. Pain is difficult to share.


    My fiance, Scott Cassell, and several other strangers saved my life that day. What would have been a wrongful death case was avoided due to their actions. My family is thankful.


    As for the incident, I am still considering hiring an attorney to help me navigate the insurance claims process in hopes to understand what is fair and reasonable and to also avoid a lawsuit. I am certainly no expert and it is difficult to know where to begin. I have Kaiser health insurance and they have been wonderful through this. But, as most people, I was responsible for the many mounting out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to my medical treatment and stay in the ICU of the wonderful Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. (More heroes.) I will also have ongoing therapy to consider and the further harm to my system caused by the stress since it occurred. One can survive an incident only to have the memories and follow-up troubles cause yet more physical difficulty. It is hard but the knowledge that others have gone through far worse and were able to find peace and go forward gives me a huge amount of hope.


    The follow-up was extremely important to me as I wanted others spared this kind of damage. I needed open and direct communication and concrete answers from everyone involved regarding the disposition of these instructors. I can hardly be expected to react differently. If this had happened to one of my three children I would have had a far more intense response to destroy those responsible. I almost died in Scott's arms....his need to protect me and the general public after this is great and I am thankful for that beyond words.


    I am not really able yet to go on social media much, but I want to take this last paragraph to reach out and show how grateful I am to the many, many people who responded to my story. The strong, heartfelt thanks that I was okay from complete strangers all around the world has been like a drink of water in the desert. You're still in the desert but, with that drink, you can keep going until you walk out of it. And to all the people, trained and otherwise, who came to my aid that day – I want to thank you again. It takes courage to jump in to help in such a desperate situation. My life was completely in your hands as I had no strength left to help in the fight. I tried to thank you all in the local Monterey newspaper but many of you may not have seen it. As I said then, my youngest child is eleven. She still has her mom. I have the chance to continue with my life because of your efforts. I will be forever grateful.


    Kerry Franciscovich

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    Scott/Kerry,

    I was shocked and disturbed when I read your story. I was hoping there would be a follow up to the initial story, so thank you. I am glad you are both okay and wish you the very best.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjjjeremy View Post
    The story starts at the Checkout Dives and leaves lots of unanswered questions e.g. What was the instructors' attitude towards their students prior to this incident? Why, on this particular day, did the instructors attitudes seem hostile? Were the instructors hostile towards all their students, or was there something special about Mr. Cassell's girlfriend that angered them?


    Does anyone beside myself, find it odd that Mr. Cassell doesn't offer any sort of reason for the treatment his girlfriend received at the hands, of not one, but two, trained instructors? If two people are angered to the point where they're ready to torture, before attempting to drown, it would be extremely foolish and naive to presume everything was just grand, and for no apparent reason, these instructors just up-and-decided to flip-out! There's got to be more to the story.

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    I didn't have any reason to doubt the OP's article generally (except for a high level of hyperbole.) If the instructors had military crew-cuts and smoked cigars, this event could have been from a 1970's scuba class. The mainstream agencies had to specifically ban 'harassment training'.

    But a lot of readers will find the unanswered questions disturbing. A lot of the questions have been asked in previous posts and hopefully the author give us more insights.

    Why were the instructors not named? I assumed it was because legal proceedings were underway but apparently they are not. Like a bad horror movie, the hockey-masked, machete wielding slasher walks off into the night as the words, "The End" fade-in on the screen. He's out there somewhere.

    Also, an angry email to a training agency and an angry internet article doesn't seem like a commensurate response to 'attempted murder.'

    The OP doesn't owe us answers and as I've said I don't doubt the generalities. But the questions still linger.
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    Quote Originally Posted by awap View Post
    Under what conditions should one diver refuse to allow another diver to thumb a dive?
    I'm no instructor but I agree with Jim, the prudent thing is to come up with the student, regain composure, discuss and try again. If something went wrong here and harm came to the student I would think the instructor could be in big trouble. Furthermore it sets a bad example for the student. When a diver thumbs up it means come up, not: I don't think so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by debajo agua View Post
    The story starts at the Checkout Dives and leaves lots of unanswered questions e.g. What was the instructors' attitude towards their students prior to this incident? Why, on this particular day, did the instructors attitudes seem hostile? Were the instructors hostile towards all their students, or was there something special about Mr. Cassell's girlfriend that angered them?


    Does anyone beside myself, find it odd that Mr. Cassell doesn't offer any sort of reason for the treatment his girlfriend received at the hands, of not one, but two, trained instructors? If two people are angered to the point where they're ready to torture, before attempting to drown, it would be extremely foolish and naive to presume everything was just grand, and for no apparent reason, these instructors just up-and-decided to flip-out! There's got to be more to the story.
    I keep seeing references to both instructors being involved. OP was clear that there were two instructors, but not that both were involved in the behavior. Just a lowly DM, but when I'm helping an instructor who has 4 student - if he's focusing on one student doing drills, I am specifically not watching that student. It is my job to be safety diver for the other students while the instructor is preoccupied. In this case there were two instructors with 12 students. Presumably actually two classes which were simply staying close for redundancy in case of issues. The second instructor may not have noticed any of the behavior as he was supervising 11 other students at the time.

    Putting the faulty instructor in the best possible light consistent with the original post: He was unaware of the risks or consequences of his actions. Believed student was panicking and attempted to help her work through it. Of course he should never allow any issues to escalate to the point of panic, ascending to discuss and address issues if necessary. OP tore student from the instructor, bringing her to the surface. Instructor followed where he thought he found student fine and in the care of her BF (OP), apparently withdrawing from the class. Unable to leave the remaining students on the bottom so he returned to them. At that point he should have terminated the dive for all and returned to shore. Only familiar with PADI regs, under which you may not leave any student in the water unsupervised by an associated pro. Even believing his student to be OK and being tended to, the instructor had a duty to escort her until she had completely exited the water.

    Regs allow instructors to supervise fairly large numbers of students. However this incident exemplifies the need for additional supervision during any class. A single instructor cannot handle the remainder of a class when there is an incidence, regardless of fault. Experience has shown that once one thing goes wrong, others tend to follow. How does one instructor deal with multiple student issues simultaneously? Have never heard an instructor brief "if there is an emergency I will be wrapped up in dealing with it - in this case you are all responsible to get yourselves out of the water". If the instructor disappears during a class, how many open water students would sit on the platform until further notice? My experience suggests that most would wait until they are low on air - if they remember to monitor their pressure.

    Kerry was incredibly lucky Scott was there keeping an eye on her. Thank you Scott for the save and write up. Now lets go see SSI step up and insure that students survive by design - not luck!
    tracydr likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by debajo agua View Post
    The story starts at the Checkout Dives and leaves lots of unanswered questions e.g. What was the instructors' attitude towards their students prior to this incident? Why, on this particular day, did the instructors attitudes seem hostile? Were the instructors hostile towards all their students, or was there something special about Mr. Cassell's girlfriend that angered them?


    Does anyone beside myself, find it odd that Mr. Cassell doesn't offer any sort of reason for the treatment his girlfriend received at the hands, of not one, but two, trained instructors? If two people are angered to the point where they're ready to torture, before attempting to drown, it would be extremely foolish and naive to presume everything was just grand, and for no apparent reason, these instructors just up-and-decided to flip-out! There's got to be more to the story.
    I think that Scott's writing led you to believe that the hostility came from the fact that he was going to be in the water with his girlfriend as they warned him repeatedly to stay away from her. This is probably training protocol to make sure that there is no interference. Perhaps these two instructors have had a bad experience with this, but took it too far in this case. Scott did not give them an attitude, but it sounds like the instructors treated him as though he would.

    I don't think that Scott was saying that their intention right from the outset was to torture and deliberately drown his girlfriend. But the fact that Kelly was held down and nearly drowned had an outcome of feeling tortured. I don't blame her for feeling that she was tortured and having nightmares over this incident. I am so happy that she survived and she is able to tell us what happened from her point of view. So many times we don't have that opportunity.

    ---------- Post added March 25th, 2013 at 04:25 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Cassell View Post
    ..We want to know, unequivocally, that these two instructors will not harm other unsuspecting students..

    Scott - can you tell us if these instructors have been banned from all certifying agencies?

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