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How much of a factor is age in scuba deaths

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by DennisS, May 19, 2019.

  1. DennisS

    DennisS Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sebastian, FL
    How does one know when it is time to hang up the fins? Recent FL deaths have one thing in common-age

    It’s been a rough month for those diving or snorkeling in the waters off the Florida Keys.

    For the fourth time this month, a person exploring underwater has died, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

    Clifford Moody, 59, of Miami, was found unconscious just before 10:30 a.m. Saturday as he snorkeled with family in six to eight feet of water at the Grecian Dry Rocks off John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, the sheriff’s office said.

    Moody was given CPR as he was taken back to the dock on the charter snorkeling boat Encounter. He was then taken to Mariners Hospital where he died.

    On Wednesday, a 65-year-old Pennsylvania woman died in a Miami-area hospital after a diving trip at Sand Key in Key West. Michele R. Fina, of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, lost consciousness during the dive.

    On May, 11, a 70-year-old died after a snorkeling trip in Key West with the company Fury Water Adventures. Linda Gay Adams, of Lake Alfred, collapsed after returning to the boat.

    The first incident this month, according to the sheriff’s office, happened May 7, when 73-year-old Jacqueline Dunmire went missing while diving off Summerland Key. After Dunmire’s husband reported her missing, the Coast Guard searched more than 2,000 nautical square miles to no avail.

    Read more here: Miami man dies while snorkeling off John Pennekamp Park in the Keys
  2. Jcp2

    Jcp2 Literally virtually diving ScubaBoard Supporter

    Well, only 2/4 mentioned are scuba, and the only thing mentioned is age, and not health or fitness. It’s a seasonal activity that, for some, can lead to death through unintentional overexertion. Like shoveling snow. But more enjoyable.
    Tricia, Esprise Me, Searcaigh and 2 others like this.
  3. W W Meixner

    W W Meixner Banned ScubaBoard Supporter


    There are many factors...age being only one...none of your above as listed indicate an investigation as to a ''root cause''...so who knows...

    There are likely as many...''senior divers'' in the waters of the world...as there are non senoirs...and whose to say a 38 year old diver who is over-weight...drinks too much and smokes a pack a day is healthier than a trim/fit/healthy...70 year old...


    Warren...a trim/fit/healthy...70 year old...
    Tricia likes this.
  4. MargaritaMike

    MargaritaMike Divemaster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: On a non-divable lake in SE Texas
    Or even an overweight 70 year old who exercises and doesn't smoke. Just sayin... (as a previously mentioned person)

    Sounds to me that I need to stay away from Florida (another common factor)

    Cheers -
    Hatul, Ana, chillyinCanada and 5 others like this.
  5. dlofting

    dlofting DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
    I think age is a factor. It's up to you to decide how much. Many fit,older divers are able to outpace younger people, but you have to decide if that's you or not.
  6. CWK

    CWK Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Probably on a LOB somewhere
    Offhand I’d say that any randomly chosen 70 year old is more likely to die in the next 100 days than any randomly chosen 25 year old. So yes, I can conceive of age being a factor in death.
  7. 2airishuman

    2airishuman ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Greater Minnesota
    There aren't enough scuba diving fatalities to allow for much analysis of causes. This is made worse by problems with the underlying accident data, among them: that a substantial but unknown number of fatalities are missed due to a lack of mandatory reporting; that the cause of most accidents cannot be determined objectively and there is therefore a great deal of bias and conjecture baked into the underlying data; and that HIPAA (and other similar regulations outside the USA) preclude access to medical data that could explain the extent and nature of medical factors.

    I have previously written that the statistical data is vague enough to allow it to support anyone's agenda of the moment, whatever that may be.

    I do not believe that scuba diving at, say, 70, is materially more hazardous than, say, bicycling at 70, or horseback riding at 70, or sitting in a rocking chair watching daytime TV at 70.
  8. ibj40

    ibj40 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Texas
    While age may be a factor on occasion, I believe that a matrix of issues needs to be considered.

    I am 69, but was a competitive distance runner between the ages of 35 and 60; never smoked, and consume a very balanced diet (my wife is a vegetarian, and that helps, but I do sneak me some Texas barbecue for business lunches).

    I suffered a sciatic nerve attack that ended my running career, but after regaining most of the strength in the affected leg, still am very active in taking long walks whenever I can.

    I take no prescription medications, and all my blood levels are well within tolerances.

    Should I suffer a life-ending diving incident, I hope that my age is not the first indicator used as a contributing factor.
    chillyinCanada and MargaritaMike like this.
  9. Pancakesnbacon

    Pancakesnbacon Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: USA
    Monty Hall discussed this a bit in a show about Egypt's blue hole. Mostly men under 35 die there. I wouldn't be surprised if that bore out similarly for all areas. There's a reason car insurance rates are highest for young men.
    Tricia, Esprise Me and MargaritaMike like this.
  10. leadduck

    leadduck Barracuda

    When you look at BSAC's annual scuba accident reports, most fatalities (~2/3) are probably related to a medical problem in combination with the victim being alone in the water incapacitated. "Being alone" is not only intentional solo diving, but includes divers lost by inattentive buddies while having a problem, or divers feeling sick, leaving the group and returning to the boat alone. Faintness, low blood pressure, even a light heart attack... are no problem at the tennis court but are deadly under water without a good buddy. Exertion while entering or leaving the water can be more dangerous than the dive itself.
    So I'd say yes such problems become more likely with age, but the risk can be mitigated by avoiding exertion and diving only with good buddies.
    grantwiscour and Tricia like this.

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