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Cyprus Diving Incident

Cyprus Diving Incident

Hello dive fellows,

I saw a recent article on the BBC website regarding a dive then went terribly wrong and left some of the divers with life changing injuries.

The article can be found and read here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/disability-44568215

I’ve never blogged in my life but after reading this article I felt compelled to hear the thoughts of others in the dive community…namely YOU!!!

Lets set one thing straight, and that is I’m taking nothing away from the fact that this poor chap has been left in a wheel cheer for the rest of his life, I would not wish that upon anyone.  I’m more interested in the chain reaction of events that lead to this catastrophe.  Given the guy was a “Dive Instructor” I’m sitting here  thinking at so many points alarms bells would of been ringing in my head…but again that is only my opinion, the more advanced divers among you might have a differing view?

If you have not read the article the summary of the incident is this, a group of 4 divers (one of which is an instructor) dive to 40m in search of Nudibranchs.  At some point at 40m two of the group signal that they have run out of air, assuming they are now buddy breathing they proceed to ascend.  At 30m the two remaining divers with air run out of air too, they are then forced into making an emergency rapid accent as quickly but as safely as possible from 30m.  One of the unfortunate divers, the subject of the article gets a severe case of the bends upon reaching the surface that eventually leaves him paralysed from the waist down.  Interestingly two of the divers had no lasting injuries and another diver got the bends in his arm.

So here are my thoughts:

Firstly why are they going to bust a 40m dive in search for Nudibranchs???  My first genuine thought! Sure they look cute but I’m not going to 40m unless there is a hunk of metel down there or may be the possibility of seeing a big fin!

Next, there is the dive plan…you plan the dive and dive the plan.  I’m wondering if they did do this would they have covered the length of planned bottom time while down there?

Deco time – so it does not detail what size tank they went down with or air amount but when ever I’ve been to 40m there are always three things on my mind: Air, Remaining Deco time and where my buddy is at.  If they’ve run out of air at 40m surely they have not been watching their air or deco time (assuming they had a dive computer)?

Was age and experience a factor?  Again I’m not sure how many dives this young chap may have done be he started diving at 14, and was an instructor by 18.  I’ve been diving for 5 years now and I’ve just got over 100 dives under my belt and I still consider myself to be a novice in terms of diving experience, plus I’m a bit older so may be a bit more safety aware than a 18 year but I can’t help but wonder if this was also a factor.

Either way you look at it, it was a terrible dive accident that I’m sure we can all learn from to prevent yourself ever being in a similar situation!

Happy diving!

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. What a very strange article. I read on and even read the transcript of the interview to learn how two instructors’ air could “unexpectedly run out” at 40 m. No explanation at all, just a vague suggestion that they used it up faster than expected. And these people teach? Yikes. I would expect that even a newly qualified OW diver would know this scenario could not happen without a fair degree of negligence.

    1. I agree, I get the feeling that the entire truth of the incident might not be getting shared in the article but I could be wrong.

  2. I read this article with shock. It gave the impression that it was normal for 2 experienced divers to both run out of air at 40M. I mean both run out of air at the same time? They had clearly not calculated their gas requirement for the dive nor checked guages frequently enough. Obviously there are some facts missing from the story but it is not very responsible of the BBC to publish this wiithout detailing the fundamental errors made by these divers that led to tragedy. The article gives the impression that diving is a far more dangerous sport than it actually is. The lessons for the rest of us are: plan your gas usage in advance for the depth, check guages frequently and if diving to 35m+ seriously consider using a twin set.

    1. Couldn’t agree more Alan, not only experienced divers but instructors! For me that is a much scarier prospect.

  3. Horrified by the fact that qualified instructors emptied their tanks.
    During all of my training many many years ago it was drilled into us- check check check.
    Watch your air consumption and calculate your time. Computers were a backup!
    And always surface with at least 50 barg.
    Diving should be a joy, but should always be understood.
    40m dives are not abnormal. Many wreck dives are 40m+. I
    Reading the comments, I am also under the impression that the whole story had not been told.
    Basically how can a qualified instructor run out of air??
    I hope that people are not put off diving by this!

  4. The article starts off by saying “It had been well-planned – a deep dive for four experienced scuba diving instructors……” So my reading is that all four of them were “experienced” (??) instructors, not just the one who got the bends?

    It’s a strange story, and what gets me maybe most is the tone throughout of “it was nobodys fault” when it most obviously was. That four “experienced instructors” can dive to 40m but not one of them seem to check air remaining at any point of the dive just seems unbelievable. Maybe the focus of the story should have been “are diving training standards in Cyprus extremely poor?”

    Worth an email to the BBC, linking to these comments?

  5. This BBC article has clearly ruffled some feathers in the diving community.

    After a couple of Google hits I was able to find the article below written by someone who on paper would be far more experienced than myself and in my opinion breaks his arguments down much better however he holds no punches and is much less forgiving of the diver in question.

    https://artofscubadiving.com/response-to-bbc-article/

    Its worth reading some of the responses to his article also, there is one suggestion that the real story is that they busted past 40m and had to come up with a “plausible” story – this would make sense if your trying not to void your insurance cover.

    This article seems to also be doing the rounds on Scuba Board also.

    https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/instructor-bent-after-running-out-of-air-at-40m.565281/

    Either way I’m glad its not just me who thought this story smelt as bad as a mold encrusted drysuit coming out of storage!

  6. Since my previous post I’ve read the full transcript of the original interview, and a couple of things may be down to sloppy journalism by the BBC (the interviewer talks of “oxygen tanks”……..!) and amongst other things she has translated his original “dive professionals” into “experienced instructors”.

    That said, I’m inclined to go along with what is said in the link given above as the most likely explanation for this unbelievable story – that what he told the reporter is “economical with the truth” – to put it kindly. And the most plausible explanation is that at least some of them went much deeper than 40m. Let’s say they all went to 40m, then two decided to do a deep bounce, whilst the other pair stayed at 40m. Suddenly that helps explain why first two run out of air together at 40m, (they’d been much deeper) then the remaining two on the way up. And maybe also explains why two got bent, and two didn’t?

    Evidence? Well, maybe no smoking guns, but he says in the transcript: ” It was our day off so me and a couple of the other people that I worked with, so all dive professionals, we decided to go a little bit deeper than normally. Obviously we’re all trained in deep diving and stuff like that. And just decided yeah, let’s try this. Obviously being young you want to kind of push the limits a little bit. ”

    Which is a little odd. One moment he talks about being “trained in deep diving and stuff like that”, next about “kind of push the limits a little bit”. So if he was “trained in deep diving”, would 40m in those waters really seem like “pushing the limits”? But it would make much more sense if the “pushing the limits” was well below 40m…… but he’s not going to admit such, is he?

    But maybe the dumbest thing after something like this (assuming what he says in the interview is indeed not the whole truth) is giving such an interview, when it so obviously doesn’t stack up to anybody with diving knowledge? We may all do things we regret from time to time, and I can see why (for insurance reasons?) he may have wanted to not tell the whole story at the time – but isn’t it then common sense to just keep quiet? And certainly not give a BBC interview!!

    I can only wonder if he is aware of the storm all this has caused……!!

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