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Accident on Southern Cal Oil Rigs Dive

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by Hatul, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. george_austin

    george_austin Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Los Angeles,CA. Alcoi, Espana, Los Barilles, Baja
    I got a pelagic sting ray on video from Ellie in 2015 and two Mobula Rays on video from about a week later. I've seen pretty much unlimited vis a couple times out there. 74F water temp to 100+ fsw - that was an El Nino year. Amazing when it's like that
  2. gearbow

    gearbow Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Blairmore, Alberta, Canada
    Thanks very much for sharing.
  3. raftingtigger

    raftingtigger Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Woodland, CA, USA
    Bill Powers, has written all the members of Power Scuba the following with regards to this tragic death. I have copied it here in it's entirety. We rarely get to learn much about the accidents we read about, and this one has a powerful lesson for those who are willing to learn. DO NOT use this as an excuse for blame-storming. If you want more info like this, keep it polite and LEARN.

    "When the dive community loses a fellow member, one of the oft asked questions is, “why?”... or, “How could this have happened?”. Rarely do we get a satisfying answer. Closure is what we seek, but it’s sometimes very hard to come by in our sport.

    Today, though, we have a fairly concrete answer as to why we lost our friend and fellow diver, Henry Cook, last November. Steel yourself because it’s not going to be easy to digest or accept. Please understand I’m not going to write anything resembling a full incident report here nor will I share all the details known to me. Instead my hope is to 1)Give a margin of closure to those who knew and loved Hank and 2)Provide a few emphatic lessons learned for those of us who continue on. I think Hank would approve.

    Remember that Hank was lost during an oil rigs trip aboard a dive charter out of San Pedro. Third dive of the day, the first two having been on the Olympic wreck and Ellen/Elly oil rig complex respectively. On the third dive on the oil rig, Hank expressed his desire to “go a bit deeper” in order to get some of the larger scallops. (Scallops tend to get bigger the further down one goes simply because fewer divers venture to the deeper regions of sport depth.)

    Approximately nine minutes into the dive, at depths between 110 - 133 fsw, as they were shucking scallops in-place on the support pylons, Hank’s partner looked over the few feet to Hank... and Hank was limp, rapidly descending tank-first, reg out of his mouth. The partner chased Hank down quite deeply, but was unable to arrest Hank’s rapid decent and was forced to make for the surface himself once 167 fsw was reached.

    I don’t even know how to lead up to this next part, so I’m just going to say it: Although he had a steel 100 (29.7% Nitrox) on his back, Hank ran out of air at the nine minute mark because, at the beginning of his dive, he mistakenly put the regulator from his bailout 19 cu ft cylinder into his mouth instead of the reg attached to his primary 100 tank. He unknowingly breathed the entire dive off his much smaller bailout bottle. Upon postmortem analysis, his main 100 tank was virtually full. (Just a tiny amount gone that would’ve been necessary for him to add air to his drysuit on the way to depth.)

    Although there wasn’t enough air in the 19 to analyze, it was marked as having 32% Nitrox, which would have put Hank well past his MOD during the harvesting portion of his dive. Whether an O2 toxicity hit played any part in the incident will forever be unknown, but one statement in a report shares that Hank was seen “shaking” on the way down.

    Although Hank was also revealed to have coronary artery disease, the medical examiner stated that most likely played no part in the incident.

    As I read the investigative report, I found myself saddened and horrified all over again. If ever there was a dive fatality that didn’t need to happen it was this one.
    I’m going to end this post with a few lessons learned, because I do think it’s what Hank would want... some type of good to come out of this tragedy. Here’s my takeaway:
    1. The pre-dive safety/buddy check is essential and mandatory. One was not accomplished in this instance. There’s actually a picture of Hank as he was getting ready to giant-stride off the boat. He’s clearly shown with his bailout reg in his mouth. His dangling primary reg could’ve been a glaring giveaway during a thorough buddy-check. --- (I wish I could say this is the only time I’ve heard of something like this, but it happened in our group several years ago at San Clemente. Experienced diver & photographer goes solo diving at night... only to discover 15 minutes into the dive he’s out of air because he’d been mistakenly, unknowingly breathing off his pony.)
    2. Bailout/pony regs (as well as “alternate” or secondary regs) should be brightly, obviously marked (most times with obnoxious colors like neon green, yellow, or orange) not just for your partner to see, but in order for you to see what you’re putting into your mouth.
    3. Bailout/emergency cylinders (vs deco tanks) must NEVER contain a Nitrox mixture greater that that which you’re using in your primary tank... and usually must contain air (21%). This ought to be discovered during a thorough buddy check as well.
    4. Your deepest dive of the day should be your first dive, not your last. Scallops aren’t worth it.
    5. Do not exceed the Maximum Operating Depth (MOD) of the gas you’re breathing. (Know someone who brags about routinely diving at 1.6 partial pressure or beyond? They are not your friend and care not for your safety.)
    6. Most importantly of all: Realize how quickly a drowning can occur. 15-25 seconds is all it takes. Add to that a sizeable water depth and it’s easy to see how rapidly bad things can happen... even if you’re sticking close to your buddy. It then behooves us to be even more attentive to our buddies. Our safety postures must be increased.
    As I said above, I’ve purposefully left out details as it’s not my intention to give a full accident report here. Our hearts continue to go out to Hank’s family and friends. Don’t let his passing be for naught. Adopt a more safety-conscious posture right here and now.

    Bill Powers
    President, Power Scuba, a 501(c)(3) non-profit org
    Ayisha, Umuntu, CuzzA and 5 others like this.
  4. Jonny Wishbone

    Jonny Wishbone Barracuda

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: West Central Florida
    You know, none of us know the date or time our number is up which is why life should be so precious to us, although we go through day to day and never give it a second thought. Regardless of the details, if there is any bright spot in a tragic incident like this, it is that this man was engaged in and doing what he loved to do. Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
    RyanT and dytis-sm like this.
  5. HalcyonDaze

    HalcyonDaze Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Miami
    Damn. I'd be curious to know what their max depth actually was; 110-133 is a pretty broad range. Hard to say if O2 toxicity would have been involved (133 ft at 32% would have put him at 1.6 ppO2; higher risk but not "well past his MOD"), although it can't be ruled out.

    There's a thread I posted in the near-miss section back in 2016 regarding an incident where I jumped off the boat without checking my gauge. Turns out I had unknowingly hooked up to a rental tank that had already been used. About 15 minutes in at 75 ft I noticed my unbalanced reg was breathing pretty hard; I checked my gauge and saw the needle was resting on 0. Fortunately I kept my head and my buddy was within reach, but it shook me afterwards. I'll have to watch the GoPro footage, but I recall spending more time than I should have looking at the gauge and thinking "that can't be right" before going for help.
  6. Heath Sapp

    Heath Sapp Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Crystal River , Florida, United States
    I did not know this man or family but i read this along time ago and wondered if he passed do to a medical issue ( for I am a nurse) now reading this update I will personal make sure i do all checks for if someone with this much experience makes a small mistake well do not forget follow all saftey procdures. My cave instructor beat it into my head S Drills. Small errors lead to large ones which seems to be the case here. I hate to see it was a small mistake that cost him his life with family and friends. But the dive community can learn from this. My heart felt sadness goes out to family and friends. To the dive community we can learn from this but its lessons that have been learned before lets not forget this lesson again.
  7. Saniflush

    Saniflush ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    Thank you for sharing this.
  8. raftingtigger

    raftingtigger Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Woodland, CA, USA
    The more I think about this the more I'm convinced the real take home message is to look at - and comprehend - your SPG reading frequently. That simple step would have prevented this tragedy, prevented HalcyonDaze's scare, and did prevent an incident in my own case.

    My non-incident was a SM dive where I was using a LP 72 (max 2250 psi) as my primary tank and a AL 30 as my back-up/buddy on a solo dive. The plan was NOT to breath off the 30, but carry it only as my back up. 10 minutes into the dive I realized I was on the 30 and not the 72. In that time I had checked my 72's SPG 3 times. Each time it was "wow, I'm doing really good on my air consumption" (please note that with a LP 72 the SPG drops much slower than with a HP 100) until the 3rd time when I said "this is ridiculous, what am I breathing off of". Yup, my pony which was now 1/2 full. Quick switch as well practiced, and I had an excellent and uneventful dive.

    Did I make a mistake - most certainly. Was it a big problem - no, BECAUSE I both frequently check and think about my SPG reading. Please understand I am not lambasting either the deceased or HalyconDaze, but using the 3 of us as examples and teaching points.

    Were there other things that could have prevented this tragic death? Absolutely, but this ONE basic habit could have prevented a bad outcome from all the others. Bill Powers gives several very good suggestions and I endorse them all, but to me the real take home message is LOOK AT YOUR SPG!
    Power Scuba likes this.
  9. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes
    This question is not meant to be snarky at all: but how does someone start off a dive on their pony reg rather than primary? I carry an AL30 pony with pony reg held against valve with a loop of bungee cord. I sling pony on my left side. Pony reg is totally different model from primary.

    Primary is on a long hose and secondary necklaced.

    There is absolutely no way I’m going to mistake my pony reg for primary.

    I wonder if the confusion is more of an issue for those who mount their pony off back tank?
    muzikbiz22 and Hatul like this.
  10. raftingtigger

    raftingtigger Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Woodland, CA, USA
    Not snarky. Good question. Different ways of doing things. In my case if I am diving with a main tank with 2 seconds on it (primary and alternate) then my pony reg is clipped like yours is. If I'm diving solo, then I only have one second per tank and both are deployed. One on a necklace and the other on a long hose. Every diver has their own way of handling this. The key is being well practiced with whatever you do.

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