Home Tournaments Calendar Weather Merchandise Sponsors

Go Back   Spearboard.com - The World's Largest Spearfishing Diving Boating Social Media Forum > United States Geographical Locations > California Spearfishing

California Spearfishing Talk here about spearfishing on California's Pacific Coast, and post those reports and photos!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 04-04-2018, 07:17 AM   #16
jfjf
.
 
jfjf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Palm Bch County
Posts: 10,311
Re: Lost scuba diver off the rigs in Los Angeles.

Copied text:


raftingtigger
Divemaster
# of Dives: 500 - 999
Location: Woodland, CA, USA
1,151
589
113
Bill Powers, has written all the members of Power Scuba the following with regards to this tragic death. I have copied it here in it's entirety. We rarely get to learn much about the accidents we read about, and this one has a powerful lesson for those who are willing to learn. DO NOT use this as an excuse for blame-storming. If you want more info like this, keep it polite and LEARN.

"When the dive community loses a fellow member, one of the oft asked questions is, “why?”... or, “How could this have happened?”. Rarely do we get a satisfying answer. Closure is what we seek, but it’s sometimes very hard to come by in our sport.

Today, though, we have a fairly concrete answer as to why we lost our friend and fellow diver, Henry Cook, last November. Steel yourself because it’s not going to be easy to digest or accept. Please understand I’m not going to write anything resembling a full incident report here nor will I share all the details known to me. Instead my hope is to 1)Give a margin of closure to those who knew and loved Hank and 2)Provide a few emphatic lessons learned for those of us who continue on. I think Hank would approve.

Remember that Hank was lost during an oil rigs trip aboard a dive charter out of San Pedro. Third dive of the day, the first two having been on the Olympic wreck and Ellen/Elly oil rig complex respectively. On the third dive on the oil rig, Hank expressed his desire to “go a bit deeper” in order to get some of the larger scallops. (Scallops tend to get bigger the further down one goes simply because fewer divers venture to the deeper regions of sport depth.)

Approximately nine minutes into the dive, at depths between 110 - 133 fsw, as they were shucking scallops in-place on the support pylons, Hank’s partner looked over the few feet to Hank... and Hank was limp, rapidly descending tank-first, reg out of his mouth. The partner chased Hank down quite deeply, but was unable to arrest Hank’s rapid decent and was forced to make for the surface himself once 167 fsw was reached.

I don’t even know how to lead up to this next part, so I’m just going to say it: Although he had a steel 100 (29.7% Nitrox) on his back, Hank ran out of air at the nine minute mark because, at the beginning of his dive, he mistakenly put the regulator from his bailout 19 cu ft cylinder into his mouth instead of the reg attached to his primary 100 tank. He unknowingly breathed the entire dive off his much smaller bailout bottle. Upon postmortem analysis, his main 100 tank was virtually full. (Just a tiny amount gone that would’ve been necessary for him to add air to his drysuit on the way to depth.)

Although there wasn’t enough air in the 19 to analyze, it was marked as having 32% Nitrox, which would have put Hank well past his MOD during the harvesting portion of his dive. Whether an O2 toxicity hit played any part in the incident will forever be unknown, but one statement in a report shares that Hank was seen “shaking” on the way down.

Although Hank was also revealed to have coronary artery disease, the medical examiner stated that most likely played no part in the incident.

As I read the investigative report, I found myself saddened and horrified all over again. If ever there was a dive fatality that didn’t need to happen it was this one.
I’m going to end this post with a few lessons learned, because I do think it’s what Hank would want... some type of good to come out of this tragedy. Here’s my takeaway:
The pre-dive safety/buddy check is essential and mandatory. One was not accomplished in this instance. There’s actually a picture of Hank as he was getting ready to giant-stride off the boat. He’s clearly shown with his bailout reg in his mouth. His dangling primary reg could’ve been a glaring giveaway during a thorough buddy-check. --- (I wish I could say this is the only time I’ve heard of something like this, but it happened in our group several years ago at San Clemente. Experienced diver & photographer goes solo diving at night... only to discover 15 minutes into the dive he’s out of air because he’d been mistakenly, unknowingly breathing off his pony.)
Bailout/pony regs (as well as “alternate” or secondary regs) should be brightly, obviously marked (most times with obnoxious colors like neon green, yellow, or orange) not just for your partner to see, but in order for you to see what you’re putting into your mouth.
Bailout/emergency cylinders (vs deco tanks) must NEVER contain a Nitrox mixture greater that that which you’re using in your primary tank... and usually must contain air (21%). This ought to be discovered during a thorough buddy check as well.
Your deepest dive of the day should be your first dive, not your last. Scallops aren’t worth it.
Do not exceed the Maximum Operating Depth (MOD) of the gas you’re breathing. (Know someone who brags about routinely diving at 1.6 partial pressure or beyond? They are not your friend and care not for your safety.)
Most importantly of all: Realize how quickly a drowning can occur. 15-25 seconds is all it takes. Add to that a sizeable water depth and it’s easy to see how rapidly bad things can happen... even if you’re sticking close to your buddy. It then behooves us to be even more attentive to our buddies. Our safety postures must be increased.
As I said above, I’ve purposefully left out details as it’s not my intention to give a full accident report here. Our hearts continue to go out to Hank’s family and friends. Don’t let his passing be for naught. Adopt a more safety-conscious posture right here and now.

Last edited by jfjf; 04-04-2018 at 07:27 AM.
jfjf is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2018, 07:24 AM   #17
jfjf
.
 
jfjf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Palm Bch County
Posts: 10,311
Re: Lost scuba diver off the rigs in Los Angeles.

So it sounds like a diver was killed by using his pony bottle reg instead of his primary, ran the pony to zero, couldn’t figure out the error which would be resolved by switching regulators and then drowned. Nothing to do with nitrox, medical or narcosis; just a super simple mistake.

We had a good discussion on this forum a while ago about how important it is to configure your gear so a simple mind fart does not kill you. I’ve heard of a few other fatalities and also close calls from people who recovered from this EXACT SAME mistake.

—————— Don’t let a pony bottle kill you!!!! ———
jfjf is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2018, 07:56 AM   #18
CuzzA
Registered User
 
CuzzA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Palm Harbor, FL
Posts: 489
Re: Lost scuba diver off the rigs in Los Angeles.

Yes. I'm glad you shared this here. On my pony I have a yellow mouthpiece to differentiate it from my primary and like you, Jim, I necklace that reg as well.

Of course, the glaring issue is how he died with a) a buddy and b) a full HP100? Panic leading to poor judgement and losing neutral buoyancy and going negative is the only thing I can come up with.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	20180403_203715.jpg
Views:	59
Size:	137.9 KB
ID:	237600  
CuzzA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2018, 10:59 AM   #19
jfjf
.
 
jfjf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Palm Bch County
Posts: 10,311
Re: Lost scuba diver off the rigs in Los Angeles.

People way, way over estimate their ability to function with no air. A pony will go from hard to inhale to zero very fast- 5 times faster than a big tank. I can envision 2 breaths and then nothing.

I can see the diver not signaling his buddy who is busy working frantically and instead work to switch regulators. A few failed confused attempts at that and if he was working hard before to hammer scallops, and with no air in his lungs, he is going to be out very fast.

Easy to see how it progresses. The full tank does nothing because he assumes it is empty and never goes back to re- evaluate his original incorrect asssumptions.

So many accidents happen in life were you make a simplistic error or assumption and causes you to progresss down an incorrect path and the only way to recover is to reconsider the original (erroneous) assumption. Happens all the time when an engineering student is solving a complex problem. A tiny little error at the start dooms you to failure.

This is an important concept I try to keep I mind when problems arise, but with zero air in your lungs, this kind of self critical analysis is not happening.

Possibly discussing this error would allow you the bandwidth to consider the possibility that you accidentally switched to a pony, and recover.
jfjf is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2018, 10:27 PM   #20
LionfishStabber
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 39
Re: Lost scuba diver off the rigs in Los Angeles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jfjf View Post
People way, way over estimate their ability to function with no air. A pony will go from hard to inhale to zero very fast- 5 times faster than a big tank. I can envision 2 breaths and then nothing.

I can see the diver not signaling his buddy who is busy working frantically and instead work to switch regulators. A few failed confused attempts at that and if he was working hard before to hammer scallops, and with no air in his lungs, he is going to be out very fast.

Easy to see how it progresses. The full tank does nothing because he assumes it is empty and never goes back to re- evaluate his original incorrect asssumptions.

So many accidents happen in life were you make a simplistic error or assumption and causes you to progresss down an incorrect path and the only way to recover is to reconsider the original (erroneous) assumption. Happens all the time when an engineering student is solving a complex problem. A tiny little error at the start dooms you to failure.

This is an important concept I try to keep I mind when problems arise, but with zero air in your lungs, this kind of self critical analysis is not happening.

Possibly discussing this error would allow you the bandwidth to consider the possibility that you accidentally switched to a pony, and recover.
I'll have to pull the clip off my storage drive to check the time intervals, but the one unexpected OOG incident I had at depth I recall spending more time than I should have staring at my SPG thinking "that can't be right - I haven't been down here nearly long enough to chew through an AL 80." Fortunately a) I wasn't actually out of gas and my unbalanced reg gave me a few minutes of warning to consider my options, and b) after reaching the proper conclusion I got my buddy's attention and initiated a shared-air ascent.

I didn't see the photo referenced of him making his entry, but there was a shot posted on Power Scuba's FB page shortly after the accident of him getting ready to dive. It's hard to tell for sure what his hose configuration was since the shot is from the right front at close range, but it looks like his primary and pony second stages were similar if not identical models. Both hoses were over the right arm and secured at the same attachment point on the right chest D-ring. It looks like he may have also had an air-integrated second stage on his BC inflator.
LionfishStabber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2018, 05:16 AM   #21
CuzzA
Registered User
 
CuzzA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Palm Harbor, FL
Posts: 489
Re: Lost scuba diver off the rigs in Los Angeles.

Wow. What a terrible configuration. Nevertheless, if he had an Air2 style inflator you would think the only other reg he would have to breath from would be the full HP100. Even if he thought he was out of gas, surely you would think he would try to switch to the presumed pony.

This accident still leaves a few more unanswered questions despite the new information. I wonder if the valve on his back gas was open. Perhaps he aspirated some water and that was it, he couldn't recover. Maybe he really did ox tox, which I can't see happening, but you would think he would try to inflate his drysuit or bc.

It just seems bizarre that with all of the options, including a buddy to help, it appears he did nothing.
CuzzA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2018, 05:32 PM   #22
jfjf
.
 
jfjf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Palm Bch County
Posts: 10,311
Re: Lost scuba diver off the rigs in Los Angeles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CuzzA View Post
Wow. What a terrible configuration. Nevertheless, if he had an Air2 style inflator you would think the only other reg he would have to breath from would be the full HP100. Even if he thought he was out of gas, surely you would think he would try to switch to the presumed pony.

This accident still leaves a few more unanswered questions despite the new information. I wonder if the valve on his back gas was open. Perhaps he aspirated some water and that was it, he couldn't recover. Maybe he really did ox tox, which I can't see happening, but you would think he would try to inflate his drysuit or bc.

It just seems bizarre that with all of the options, including a buddy to help, it appears he did nothing.
If his main tank valve was off, which is entirely possible, then I assume the report would state that.

Why didn't he switch to his presumed pony???

Because when the shit hit the fan, he spit the worthless regulator out and made 100% sure he was now using the pony reg. Probably, he never went backwards in his thinking which would be required to consider that he might have been using the pony all the time.

He may very well have assumed that his pony was accidentally turned off. He may have been thinking that his main tank failed (for some unknown reason - maybe he assumed the spg failed and maybe he thought he forgot to switch to a new tank between dives and his main tank being empty was because he had sucked down the 1000 lbs he had left over from his last dive.

Many, many people have forgot to switch tanks between dives- maybe he considered that he had made that mistake. Probably more likely than sucking down the wrong regulator and not knowing it.

He probably views that pony reg as a last ditch, get out of Dodge option and when that failed, he just couldn't solve the problem.

There are many erroneous thought processes that I can envision that can result in this situation arising. Of course I'm only guessing, and we will never know the real answer, but if it helps people to trouble shoot and survive a really stupid error, this is worth thinking about.

People are freaking STUPID! Last night I prepared the coffee maker and got other stuff ready for a very early dive departure.

This morning, the last thing I did before walking out the door was pour myself a cup of hot coffee. I was only half awake but noticed it looked weak and then realized, I must not have put any coffee grounds in the coffee maker the night before.

I've never done that stupid human trick before, but I have made lots of really stupid errors when diving - most all of them are when I was too comfortable and too casual. Sorta like how you make coffee the night before.
jfjf is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:43 AM.


The World's Largest Spearfishing Diving Social Media Forum Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2002 - 2014 Spearboard.com