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Wes Skiles' Widow Looking For 25 Million from Lamartek

Discussion in 'Scuba Related Court Cases' started by tekkydiver, May 9, 2016.

  1. tekkydiver

    tekkydiver Regular of the Pub

    Today's Palm Beach Post
    Widow blames scuba-gear firm in underwater photog’s drowning
    Crime & Law

    By Jane Musgrave - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


    Posted: 6:16 p.m. Monday, May 9, 2016

    WEST PALM BEACH — The widow of world-renowned underwater photographer Wes Skiles will ask a Palm Beach County jury to award her at least $25 million in damages from a diving equipment company that she claims is responsible for her husband’s drowning off Boynton Beach.

    In opening statements of the Palm Beach County Circuit Court trial on Monday, attorney Dustin Herman, who is representing Terri Skiles, claimed Dive Rite Express and Mark Derrick never did appropriate tests to determine if their special underwater breathing apparatus was safe. Dive Rite Express and Derrick were in a joint venture to produce the equipment, which Skiles was using in 2010 while shooting goliath grouper off Boynton Beach for National Geographic.

    “This is about failing to do safety testing on a piece of life safety equipment,” Herman said of the death of the 53-year-old North Florida resident. “If a corporation doesn’t do this type of testing, divers will die.”

    An attorney representing Broward County resident Derrick countered that Skiles was responsible for his own death.

    While an accomplished scuba diver, Skiles wasn’t certified to use the special underwater breathing device, attorney David Concannon told the seven jurors. Concannon also said Skiles was taking Ambien, which is used to treat insomnia, and hydrocodone during the dive.

    Wes Skiles. (Photo by Aaron E. Daye/Gainesville Sun)
    Skiles lost consciousness during an ascent from 83 feet, lost his mouthpiece and drowned.

    “We’re going to ask you to find that it’s more likely than not that Mr. Skiles caused his own death,” Concannon said.

    The key evidence during the two-week trial will be a roughly 45-minute video of the July 2010 dive, both sides said.

    Herman said it will show that the equipment malfunctioned.

    Concannon countered that it will show Skiles made many mistakes. It will further show, he claimed, that the warning systems on the breathing device were working, but Skiles ignored them.

    “It’s up to you to determine why he’s doing that,” Concannon said of evidence that Skiles turned off the oxygen. “Is it because he’s impaired? Is it because he’s inexperienced?”

    Skiles, who began diving when he was 13, performed over 7,000 dives and specialized in cave diving, Herman said. Just days after he died, the cover of National Geographic magazine featured one of his last dives – the blue holes of the Bahamas. After his death, National Geographic named him “Explorer of the Year.” Florida’s Peacock Springs Park near Live Oak was renamed Wesley Skiles Peacock Springs Park.
  2. Jax

    Jax Deplorable American ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: AZ TX
    This is so sad.

    Divers, do you have good life insurance? Maybe your spouses won't do this.
    DebbyDiver likes this.
  3. Dsix36

    Dsix36 Solo Diver

    Insurance usually does not pay out for a suicide.
    Subfiend likes this.
  4. Jax

    Jax Deplorable American ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: AZ TX
    We won't ever know, for real. We weren't there, are not mind readers.

    joe10540 and DebbyDiver like this.
  5. dberry

    dberry Hydrophilic ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Philadelphia
    What kind of "special underwater breathing apparatus" was he using? A CCR? Or something custom-made? Or just a SCUBA regulator?
  6. driftwood

    driftwood Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    DebbyDiver likes this.
  7. Scubagolf

    Scubagolf Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sacramento, California, USA
    Check your policy, but most policies state that no death benefit will be paid if the insured commits suicide within two years of taking out a policy.
  8. rjack321

    rjack321 Captain

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Port Orchard, WA
    And after 2 years, even if you lied on the application, claims will generally be paid (may vary slightly by state law)
  9. abnfrog

    abnfrog Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: great white north
    what waste of courtroom ....i have GREAT respect for wes .. but bottom line he wasn't trained on the optima . and that stupid piece of plastic (c card ) means something with out it you have to prove you know how to use the machine on your back .(how you going to do that if your dead )
    sigxbill and kelemvor like this.
  10. iamrushman

    iamrushman Great White

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: ft. lauderdale, florida
    oh boy.......sad story...court results will be interesting.

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