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Two divers dead on Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by GramsciBeat, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. Ryan Nelson

    Ryan Nelson Nassau Grouper

    Interesting take. I'd think as a rescuer you might recognize that as a sign of serious trouble as confusion is a symptom of many diving related intoxications?

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk
  2. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas Central Plains
    Well, we only have limited information from the media mostly, none of us were there, so we can't really say what happened even on the boat. Still, a rescuer has to have permission from a conscious diver before rendering aid.
  3. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    Any decent rescuer knows that anyone who is a victim in an incident is dealing with both shock and extreme emotions. Everyone who is trained knows that anyone who is a victim may have a wide range of reactions, and those initial reactions are not to be trusted for anything. I was involved in an incident recently in which there were two victims, one half sitting, half lying quietly and the other sitting up and crying out in pain with an obvious broken arm. The trained EMTs went immediately to the one crying out in pain and began treating his broken arm while pretty much ignoring the other victim. Even the victim who was being treated could see the problem. "What are you working on me for?" he asked. "He's the one who's hurt."

    Once they had that person was treated and taken away, they went to the other person, who calmly described his injuries, a description that appeared very serious. They apparently did not believe him--how could someone that badly injured be so calm, cool, and collected? His description turned out to be quite accurate, and they were lucky he did not die on the way to the hospital.

    It could just as easily have been the other way around. In an incident like this, all sorts of reactions are possible.
    lv2dive, chillyinCanada and widget like this.
  4. LeeCat

    LeeCat Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: South Africa
    Cause of divers' deaths disclosed | South Coast Herald
    POST-MORTEM results have revealed that the death of divers, Peter Timm (51) and Adele Stegen (45) were consistent with decompression.
    This was confirmed by police spokesman, Captain Vincent Pandarum, who said police will continue to investigate the tragic accident that claimed the lives of the divers at Umkomaas last week.
    Capt Pandarum said Peter of Sodwana and Adele of Vryheid were out on a deep sea search and recovery dive operation off Umkomaas when the accident occurred.
    Both were professional divers and had gone out at about 9.45am together with the skipper and two others in boat hired from a local dive charter company.
    “Peter and Adele had been diving for about 30 minutes, while the other three remained in the boat, when Peter surfaced with Adele,” he said.
    Capt Pandarum said both allegedly displayed signs and symptoms of having suffered decompression and Adele was pulled on board but attempts to resuscitate her proved futile.
    “Peter was also pulled aboard where he lost consciousness and subsequently died,” he said.
    Capt Pandarum said the divers were then rushed back to the shore where paramedics’ attempts to resuscitate them were in vain. They died at the scene.
    Two inquest dockets have been opened at Umkomaas Police Station, and the case is being investigated by Detective Warrant Officer Zarak Khan.
    Diving equipment belonging to Peter was recovered and handed over to police by members of the public.
    Adele’s diving equipment has still not been recovered and W/O Khan appeals to anyone who finds any scuba diving equipment in the vicinity of Umkomaas beach to contact him at 039 973 6100.
  5. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    So, a 45 year old woman, Adele Stegen, of unknown medical history, but presumably deemed fit for technical diving, 'bolted' (whatever that means) to the surface (where she foamed at the mouth), allegedly after some incident at around 60 meters depth.

    If Peter Timm surfaced shortly thereafter, I'm inferring he skipped some required deco. and thus at least in theory decompression complications could've killed him (speculation).

    But even if Stegen's body sustained decompression related damage on the way to the surface, I wonder to what level of confidence/probability even Medical Examiners can determine cause of death to be decompression illness? Even if that happened, we may never know why she 'bolted,' if that's accurate.

    I wonder how much more info. is apt to be forthcoming? I'd like to know what gas they were breathing at that point in the dive.

  6. Ryan Nelson

    Ryan Nelson Nassau Grouper

    Interesting. I'm sure that despite whatever "medical" emergency they may or may not have suffered they still would have had signs of decompression.

    The much more interesting point is that they didn't recover any of her gear. Does that imply that she came up with no equipment or that they took her out of the water without her equipment on and the in the process lost it? How dooes a diver of that caliber get separated from their gear?

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk
  7. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    Here's where you've got to ask how accurate terminology is. Consider this:

    In medicine, a 'sign' is an objectively observable finding, such as elevated heart rate or blood pressure, foaming at the mouth, X-ray findings, etc… Symptoms are subjective findings, such as when the patient says he has a severe headache, or numbness and tingling in his hands. But these terms are often used interchangeably.

    I bring this up because if both divers had symptoms, it would stand to reason both were conscious at the surface, but I'm not ready to assume that.

    Does anybody know if Adele was conscious at the surface?

  8. xyrandomyx

    xyrandomyx Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Cape Town, South Africa
    Another article (I'm posting from my phone, so digging up a link is painful) said both sets of equipment were discarded at the surface during the rescue attempt. They would have been diving from an RIB. so their equipment would have been removed to get them back on the boat. It'd make sense to me for the crew to prioritise getting them to the paramedics on shore over collecting their equipment before heading back.

    ---------- Post added June 28th, 2014 at 09:55 PM ----------

    More than one article indicated she was not conscious at the surface, but that Peter Timm was. I expect there's a lot of terminology that's incorrect in all the articles on this accident and likely a few 'lost in translation' issues with reporters having a poor understanding of diving and medical topics. Treat with caution, as always.
  9. Tortuga68

    Tortuga68 Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Puerto Galera, Philippines
    As someone else said, whether that is an attributable quote taken in context, or perhaps an interpretation of attitude or rejection of personal assitance, is unknown. I have said the same thing to people who were trying to help, with all good intentions no doubt, but I think a distinction needs to be made between would-be 'rescuers' and people who actualy know what happened and what to do about it. Since Peter seems to be both the only other person on the dive and a qualified technical diver, he may well have felt that he was in the best postion to assist his buddy.

    In other words, I can relate to the sentiment.
  10. bada3003

    bada3003 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Indiana
    Not sure if this was a case of "lost in translation" but I've not seen the expression "... were consistent with decompression." IMO, an accurate description would read "decompression illness/sickness" which have specific technical connotation.

    As to possibly missing gear, one of the things taught in a rescue class is to remove a diver's gear, if possible, even while swimming to shore/boat if not within a short reach. And administer rescue breaths while doing so. Personally, I don't agree with this guideline (unless you're a professional rescue diver who practices this skill all the time, you'll be task loaded) but that's what the cert agencies teach.

    As to "symptoms" and such, if the medical problems were gas embolism related (seems likely but conjectural), I would think an autopsy might identify that given the severity of the condition that the two divers were subject to. Keep in mind that Boyle discovered decompression sickness by noticing bubbles in a snake's eyes.

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