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Diving instructor faces court over death

Discussion in 'Diving Litigation' started by triminx145, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. triminx145

    triminx145 Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Thailand
    I have already looked to see if a thread exists for this and couldn't find one, which surprised me as this incident occurred a while ago. My apologies if I missed an existing thread.

    I originally heard about this from a couple of divers from Perth who sent me an old link to the brisbane times web site,

    Dive death: instructor facing manslaughter charges

    I googled the instructors name and came up with the following article posted today from goldcoast.com.

    Here is the website and copy of the article:

    Diving instructor faces court over death Crime and Court News | goldcoast.com.au | Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

    "A JAPANESE diving instructor is facing a Gold Coast court today charged with the manslaughter of student diver.

    The 20-year-old Chinese university student drowned in the Broadwater off Wavebreak Island on April 15, 2009 during an introductory scuba dive with the Queensland Dive Company.

    Police have alleged instructor Yuri Bonning, 42, failed to ensure her student's safety and did not adequately instruct her in emergency procedures.

    It is also alleged that the student was over-weighted and her air regulator was faulty.

    The committal is expected to run for five days in the Southport Magistrates Court before Magistrate Michael Hogan."

    Beyond these news stories I know nothing and do not wish to speculate. Does anyone know anything more?
  2. vladimir

    vladimir Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Queensland seems eager to nanny the divers in its jurisdiction. I won't be diving there again.
  3. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated
    A manslaughter charge seems rather light punishment against an instructor who takes a student out on an introductory dive (DSD I assume) over-weighted and with a malfunctioning regulator and furthermore is not able to intervene on the student's behalf and as a result the student dies.
  4. marinediva

    marinediva Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Illawarra.....south of Sydney australia & Balmain
    oh dear,
    I remember this incident.
    Firstly, some back ground.
    In Australia, there is an Australian Standard. as4005.
    It is not law, as such, but it covers the whole of Australia.
    Australia is divided into six states, one territory. Of them, from memory three have a code of practice. That code of practice is part of OH & S. It states the rules and regulations of a diving operation. The other states have OH and S rules and regulations but do not have a Code of Practice. Some of those states do have a code of practice for some specific dive sites, ie HMAS Canberra.

    Take QLd which is where that accident happened.
    Qld regulations are strict and if there is an incident, it is punishable by fine, or jail or both.
    Every instructor and DM who work in Qld knows this.
    Some operators, extend the Code of Practice. To make sure they are covering their ass.

    Up until 2002, the regulations were not as strict.
    After someone left a couple of americans, yes the longegans, out on a reef, as well as the fact a lot of unfit people died from heart attacks that year (*big year for deaths) the Qld govt reacted by changing the rules. It was having a severe adverse effect on tourism numbers.
    Japanese numbers were declining, and the press both domestic and international make a very big thing out of a diver or snorkeler dying. It is unfortunate, but snorkelers are included in statistics.

    The mentality was, the industry cannot get it right, and regulate itself so regulation was put in place.
    It is unfortunate, but basically a lot of cowboy operators made it really difficult for the people who were doing it right.

    so, back to that case.
    It is unfortunate, but under law she must be charged.
    Someone's life was lost, and the state feels it can question some of training that was in place.
    The code of practice is very clear.

    I am not about to debate what happened, as that is not fair till all statements are heard in court. But it does not surprise me that someone has been charged. It would be expected.

    It is interesting that here is a state, which takes it responsibility to its guests seriously.
    From some of the threads that are out and about at the moment, wrecks is one,
    everyone wants better standards. Well here they are. If you are a dive operator in Qld, do the wrong thing, and you will be held accountable.

    Interesting enough that I currently am in NSW.
    some of the standards I see here are shockers,
    I originally came from Qld.

    You can call Qld the nanna state, sure,
    don't think they give to hoots, but if you are going to dive with a dive shop there, or use a charter boat, expect, to be using the OH & S regulations as your standard.
    all the agencies, including commercial operators made the standard, and submitted it to the govt.

    The proof is in the pudding. Since 2002, the number of deaths and accidents in aust have been reduced significantly. Compare them to the US ratio of dives. there is an enormous difference.

    Self regulation does not work when it comes to dive operations.
    Honest operators suffer, both financially, as well as being lumped in with the bad apples by reputation.

    A private diver can still do what they want, except dive in permit areas without a permit. etc etc so if you wish to dive with a dive operator in Qld, their boat, their rules.....simple really,
    and know, that in the unlikely event you do have an accident, someone will be blamed for it, in the majority of cases.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  5. Jim Ernst

    Jim Ernst Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Sacramento CA
    I have to agree with Thalassamania, Something to me sounds really fishy, and that the instructor did a poor job of reacting to an emergency, and some how let the over weight and bad reg issue slip by:no:
  6. vladimir

    vladimir Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    I would hate to have to make the case that the instructor did a good job, but you could probably make a case that overweighting students is so prevalent it borders on standard operating procedure. And, of course, I am assuming the allegations are true just for the purpose of hypothetical discussion.
  7. wanderlass

    wanderlass Barangay Pasaway

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: somewhere only we know
    i'm sure there could be a lot of things go wrong in an intro dive--over weighted, faulty bc, reg, panic diver-- but how is it that an instructor couldn't manage it? were there strong current? were they deeper than 10m?

    would be curious to hear the instructor's defense.
  8. triminx145

    triminx145 Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Thailand
    Yes, I think the only assumption is that "an introductory scuba dive" is DSD.

    In my opinion, DSD is the trickiest program to conduct (why PADI would let a DM apply to conduct it always amazes me). You do have to wonder why the instructor was not able to control the student's movements and give assistance at the surface?

    A very sad situation, but I would agree with marinediva, that self regulation doesn't really work, the good operators do suffer when someone has a bad experience and if accidents can be reduced by laws passed I guess it has to be good. However, if marinediva's statement that "if there is an incident, it is punishable by fine, or jail or both" is correct, I would be very concerned for the dive professionals linked with accidents as I have heard a personal account of an incident where a young diver died and the instructor did absolutely everything right - the case never went to court and the instructor was not penalized by the law.

    A very very difficult balance.... How to protect divers from sloppy operators but properly protect the conscientious diving professionals who do their job according to standards?
  9. marinediva

    marinediva Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Illawarra.....south of Sydney australia & Balmain
    The case is in hearing. It is a committal so sentence will be put down in the next couple of days.
    I have tried to get the coroner's report but am unable to find it on my searches.
    My college library will have access to that report and I return from holiday to college Monday.
    I will make an effort to find it and post it here.
    The area where they were diving is very busy. Lots of boat traffic.
    I cannot even find the original news reports of the day. I don't want to say what I thought happen as I would rather have the correct facts to submit rather than my memories....this was more than one year ago.
    I do know this. this is not a place I would have taken a DSD. It is far to busy.
    The depth falls quickly. I do remember my thoughts on hearing the report the day it happened, which were, oh my god, why did she take them there.
    I am interested to see what the sentence will be. I have no doubt in my mind there will be one. I am also interested to see if the dive shop operators were also charged or fined.
    I feel this is a wakeup call to all Australian operators, instructors, and DM's.
    And so it should be. The fact that we have a Standard 4055 which is often ignored by some operators in states which do not have a code of Practice, does not mean the **** will not hit the fan if they operated out of standard.

    It is a catch 22 situation. It is not law, but if you don't operate to standard, you can be held liable. I did find the reason and a supporting document/report which prompted the Qld Govt to upgrade and start to enforce a code of practice in 2003.
    I have place the link....Tourism in turbulent times: towards ... - Google Books

    sorry it is a big report....chapter 20 is the relevant report...
    It is called SHadows across the sun......page 291.....

    Tourism and Mining are the biggest industries in Qld.
    The Qld coastline spans more than 2500km and more than 90% of the population live within two hours of it. The GBR spans most of Qld coastline. over 1 million visitors a year. It is listed as one of the top seven natural wonder of the world. Considering most of the divers to the GBR are not qualified divers, and the majority of divers are actually DSD's I feel there is nothing wrong with some regulation, I for one am glad it is in place.

    the majority of deaths happen because of people getting lost, whether on purpose or by accident after they hit currents, and snorkelers who are people who have not exercised for years and go on holidays, start relaxing, and frankly, over do it, to the point of heart attack.

    It is an area with unique rules, but lets face it, the whole area itself is unique and massive.

    The result of this will be interesting. It has been whispered for some years that soon instructors will be required to also have what we call a certificate 4 in training and assessment.
    Padi, and SSi (only the agencies I am aware of, I am sure there are more) in the last year became a RTO. Registered Training Organisation. they did so because of the requirements for teaching first aid. I feel this will be extended to some recreational sports such as scuba diving. I would even go so far to say, it would not surprise me one bit that the changes to DM course are a direct result of PADI preparing itself for changes that are coming.

    The IDC covers most of the Cert 4 Training and Assessment. It is required for all vocational skills training. The obligations and duty of care of a cert 4 holder are clear cut across the board, whether they teach hospitality, or vessel handling to hairdressing. This will clean up the industry even further. This education will teach instructors how to educate and train in a way
    that is more indepth than the IDC.

    I can only feel that this is a good thing for eveyone, student, instructor and Industry.
  10. vladimir

    vladimir Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Yeah, you're right, the bodies are really piling up in the absence of regulation. Maybe we can drag Sarbanes and Oxley out of retirement and ask them to lay several layers of cost and ineffective regulation on the industry. Anything to relieve people of the responsibility to keep themselves alive.

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