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Expert: Shark probably killed diver

Discussion in 'Marine Life and Ecosystems' started by Ed Jewell, Apr 11, 2002.

  1. Ed Jewell

    Ed Jewell Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Melbourne, FL/Shavertown, PA
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    This article is coming from the April 10, 2002 Florida Today

    Expert: Shark probably killed diver

    The death of an expert diver off Pompano Beach in September is officially classified as a drowning, but the International Shark Attack File now calls it the only fatal shark attack in Florida last year.
    Eric Reichardt never resurfaced following a dive to a wrecked freighter in nearly 300 feet of water. His body was found four days later. His right arm and right leg had been torn off and his wetsuit was in shreds.........
    George Burgess, a researcher and director of the shark file, said Tuesday that Reichardt probably drowned while under attack by a shark.
    Burgess said Reichardt, 42, may have lost his regulator in the attack, which came as he dove to explore the wreck of the Ronald B. Johnson, a freighter sunk off the Fort lauderdale area as part of an artificial reef program.
    He said the main evidence of a shark death was the hemorrhaging from Reichardt's left thigh.
    Dr. Joshua Perper, the Broward medical examiner, said Tuesday he doesn't know if a shark contributed to Reichardt's death.
    "There is some evidence that points to evidence of a shark attack, but we did not know it for sure, "Pepper said.
    Burgess said it's likely Reichardt, who was experienced in such deep dives, was attacked by a bull or tiger shark at least six feet long....
    The first bite was probably to his left thigh. At this point, his regulator may have fallen out of his mouth, causing him to drown. The bites to the torso, arms and legs came afterward, either from the first shark or from others, Burgess said.....
     
  2. scuba_freek2000

    scuba_freek2000 Angel Fish

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  3. O-ring

    O-ring Beyond the Pale ScubaBoard Supporter

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    I read the original account of this incident over on Techdiver and there was a lot of criticism of his buddy and his gear (he was diving a Cis Lunar MK5P Closed Circuit rebreather).
     
  4. Uncle Pug

    Uncle Pug Swims with Orca ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Oooooohhhhhh.... I like OC even more now.... keep them bubbles blowin'.... if it keeps them sharks away
     
  5. O-ring

    O-ring Beyond the Pale ScubaBoard Supporter

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    They were diving the wrecks of the RB Johnson and Corey and Chris, depth approximately 268 FSW.
     
  6. Ed Jewell

    Ed Jewell Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Melbourne, FL/Shavertown, PA
    174
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    What was his buddy's account. The newspaper article didn't mention anything about his buddy. I hope he wasn't diving solo.
     
  7. O-ring

    O-ring Beyond the Pale ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Will post it if I can find it...from what I remember, he wasn't diving *solo*, but may as well have been since they were doing the "same ocean" type of buddy diving...I think his buddy lost him going down the line and when he circled back to look for him could not find him...
     
  8. O-ring

    O-ring Beyond the Pale ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Fellow Divers,

    I am writing to report to you the facts that I have concerning the loss of Eric Reichardt on Sunday, 9/16. Some have voiced concern that nothing was reported in the paper and no information was available concerning this tragic event. However, as was reported here, attempts to locate Eric with the USCG, BSO, area dive boats, and the kind assistance of other boaters were taken.

    I was the only diver who entered the water with Eric, and as such, I am the only source of information concerning the events. Eric was fully certifed on, and diving, a Cis Lunar MK5P Closed Circuit rebreather. I was diving an AP Valves Buddy Inspiration Closed Circuit rebreather. We both had OC bailout and deco gases available, as well as all other normally carried tech gear.

    The dive was on the wrecks of the RB Johnson and Corey and Chris, depth approximately 268 FSW. This was my first dive with Eric, who was self employeed in collection of tropical fishes. He had recently dove this same wreck on the Cis Lunar and had seen a desired species, and he was attempting to capture it. I had planned to explore certain areas of the interior of the Corey and Chris.

    We agreed to drift into the wreck and go about our separate plans once on the wreck. We had both 25 minute planned bottom times, with total run times of 107 minutes and 121 minutes. Eric was likely to finish deco first, as the Cis Lunar has onboard realtime deco capabilities. I was carrying a reel with
    an enclosed bag inflated on the surface which I would tie into the wreck and use to drift off of after the dive. Eric was to shoot his own bag from the wreck.

    Current on the site was 1.5 knots south, visability was about 40 -45 ft. Eric was carrying gear to contain the tropicals, which were positively bouyant, thus slowing his desent. I watch him above me occasinally as we drifted into the wreck. Entry time was 13:20.

    I hit the bottom at run time 1 minute and put my depth guage in the sand to get a bearing on the wreck location which was not in view. Depth was 268 which meant that the wreck was slightly west of our location. I took a compass bearing and swam at an angle westward, and looked up and saw Eric about 30 ft above me and slightly behind me, next to my line. I did not see him having any problems at this time.

    Decent time is a busy time for rebreather divers. In addition to normal descent procedures, a rebreather diver has to monitor his PO2 readings, add diluent to the counterlungs, change from low set point to high set point, etc. Suffice to say, it is a high task loading period.

    Shortly after beginning to head west, I caught a view of the stern of the wreck and swam hard for it, as the current was fairly strong. I got up to the deck of the wreck, moved to the leeward side to tie in so as not to chafe the line on the superstructure. I viewed my PO2 and systems, and noted a run time of 3 minutes.

    I then went back to the other side of the wreck to see where Eric was. I did not see him, so I swam the wreck to the point of contact with the RBJ in search of him. Though the visability was poor by Florida standards, his large yellow rebreather would have been relatively easy to spot.

    I began to consider what could have happened. My thoughts were that one of three things were possible. 1. Eric missed the wreck, surfaced for another drop, or continued a "dirt dive" out of my sight. 2. Eric saw a fish he wanted, and went after it, as that was his goal. 3. He had a problem on the dive.

    I acted in a worst case scenario and began a full bottom search for him. I began by backtracking to the area I had last seen him, with a difficult swim against the current. I then attempted to search other areas of the wrecks that were previously out of my view. As the wrecks are 226' and 180' this is a large search area with this visability.

    At run time 16 minutes, I decided that he was not on the wreck, at least to the best of my abilities in the search. I believed that it was best for me to begin an ascent for a number of reasons, and cut my deco obligation, in case he was injured on the surface.

    I sent up a second lift bag to notify the surface there was a possible problem. I completed my deco and surfaced to find that Eric was not on the boat.

    We immediately contacted the boats in the area, told them the situation, and began looking for a lift bag. We contacted the USCG and advised them of the overdue diver, and were offered assistance by boats too numerous to mention here. My sincere thanks for all who tried.

    We identifed the areas where Eric might surface based on current and run time. A full search effort was underway to include air support. I requested permission from the USCG to do a SAR dive in the area where I felt Eric might be. They were understandably hesitant to agree, but contacted superiors for permission. I agreed to their terms as it was their scene at this time.

    At approximatley 18:50 the USCG stated they did not want me to dive, but reversed that decision shortly thereafter. With the sun low on the horizon, poor vis and low ambient light, I decided the dive would be fruitless. There were other factors, including support, stack time on the breather, diluent gas, etc. I decide to try the next morning.

    I and a team of OC divers assembled this morning to attempt to recover Eric. Dive conditions were very poor. Current at the site was 3.3 knots south, and another dive boat reported 20 ft vis on the Miller Lite, a shallower but nearby wreck.

    We will attempt again tomorrow. I will continue with this effort until it is accomplished. We have seen other tech diving fatalities, and the community has come together to recover the victims. This is done mainly for the benefit of the family, but also it is done for the dive community. It is what we should, and will, do.

    I am sure that there are some who will second guess my actions on this dive and I am amoung them. All I can say is that, though we were diving solo, I did the best I could. Those of you that know me know that is is nothing I would not have done in efforts to rescue Eric, or for that mattter, any diver, had I been sucessful in locating him.

    My deepest condolences to Eric's family and friends, and my heartfelt thanks to the many who have offered assistance and support.

    Regards, Mike
     

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