Man Dies During Certification Dive Near Catalina Island

AVALON (AP) — A 61-year-old man has died while on a certification dive with his instructor near the west end of Santa Catalina Island.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Fred Keelin said Sunday that the man, whose name has not been released, died around 3 p.m. and the cause has yet to be determined.

The diving instructor told authorities the man’s body went limp as the two ascended together.

The Torrance Daily Breeze reports that the instructor performed CPR for 20 minutes before paramedics arrived to put the man in a hyperbaric chamber, but he was pronounced dead nearly two hours later.

The coroner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • John

    What an idiot instructor, and the coroner to determine?? whats there to determine, suffocation by water u idiots. The news now a days sux, they leave so much to speculate.

    • steve

      I think he was bitten by a shark, i got nabbed that same day at same location, by an 8ft great black

    • George

      Why did you jump to the drowning conclusion? Yes I know it happend in the water but it could have been a heart attack, brain hemorrage or some other medical condition. An autoposywill tell the story.

    • punisher

      Unfortunately suffocation by water is not a classification of death genius. It could have been a number of reasons including decompression sickness, air embolism, stroke or acute myocardial infarction. Maybe grandpa should have been playing bingo at the old folks home instead and you should go back to school. Fail!

  • John

    Diving should be banned. People are not meant to be underwater. Outlaw before a child dies!

    • Gary

      You’ll need to ban heart attacks, as that is probably what happened here. The fellow who died was a friend of mine, and was not a grandpa.

    • George

      You rant like a typical moron in the herd. Pass laws to restrict an activity because some one some where may die from it?. Don’t you want a choice to do what you want to and not be impacted by a bunch of laws passed by bureaucrats. Not me!

    • Art

      Hey John, speaking of idots… why dont you stick to something you know if there is anything.

  • Caroline

    To the previous poster “John” – There are any number of potential causes of death…it could be a natural death such as stroke or heart attack, brain bleed, anything. It is not necessarily a drowning. That is what the coroner is there for. Either way you look at it, it is a tragic and heartwrenching death and we should be thinking of his family and friends.

  • Glenn

    Doubtful it was the instructors fault. I’ve been diving since 1971, and it’s been my experience over the years that a certification dive is just that – a dive for certification in whatever the student is applying for. My guess is that the 61 year-old had an age-related, (or a fitness-related), trauma such as a heart attack, stroke, etc. SCUBA diving is relatively safe, (and truly enjoyable), sport when basic safety is applied, (NOT rocket science!). Why not let the system work and find out the cause of death before jumping to conclusions.

  • Jack

    John, people are not meant to be in the sky either.
    You ever been on an airplane?

    Yeah, thought so.

  • Jon

    Ban John, obviously stupidity is starting to plague his mind.

  • Tom Morato

    Accidents happen! May he rest in peace. I will include him and his family in my prayers.

  • Sean

    Until the Coroner gives us his findings, any and all judgement or indicment of diving should be reserved. There are several reasons why this man might have died, and none of them having anything to do with his instructor. We simply do not know at this time!
    I am an avid diver who has dove all over the wotld and in our community, you check and re-check your gear, do as you were taught and you take your chances.

  • Mufon

    Uhh, John, paramedics put the victim into a hyperbaric chamber, treatment consistent of someone suffering from the bends. Amusing second post though, I gotta admit, I’m assuming it was a spoof.

  • JJ

    at 61 i would not be diving. I will probably be looking for cougars

  • jaym

    I happen to know the man that died in this story. He was a very successful attorney, a loving husband and a father. The comments by some in this thread are truly disgusting. I suppose its easy to be callous when it isn’t someone you knew and loved.

    • bugman

      thank you!

    • svergun

      I was surprised to see any comments here, other than sympathy and prayers for the gentleman, his family, his friends and even the instructor who must have also been quite upset.

  • Glenn

    Children aren’t allowed, by law, to get certified. Only at age 14, and only then with a certified parent, can they get certified and… the certification card reflects that and no one will fill their tanks, (nor will they be allowed to dive), without the SCUBA-certified parent going with them under water.

  • JK

    I was in that area on my boat yesterday. We passed by the dive boat shortly before it happened and listened to the whole thing on the radio. I’m sory for all those involved. I undestand the boat had an EMT present and the dive was at 30 ft for 30 min. Not enought to get the bends. He was taken to the hyperbaric chamber because it’s were the helipad is I would guess. It was a somber evening in two harbors.

  • Gonzo

    You must exhale when assending…embolism is likely…expecially if he surfficed to fast. If I’m not mistaken you don’t even go down one atmosphere during your underwater certification. There are some pretty stressful events that are required prior to certification that must be practiced in a pool….Perhaps it was somthing else..

    My prayers go out for his family and friends..

  • Glenn

    Not likely an embolism, since he was on a certification dive with his instructor. I’m still inclined to believe it was something physiological – age related perhaps, or we can all just stop speculating and wait & see what the coroner finds out?

  • Michael

    re: JJ
    “at 61 i would not be diving. I will probably be looking for cougars.”

    JJ when you get to be 61, the cougars are not going to be looking for you unless you are talking about 80 year old cougars!

    • Glenn

      Hey! I’m 60, been diving since 1971, AND… have a 34 year old wife! Life is what you make it!

  • Marcus

    Sarah Palin had something to do with this, I just know it.

  • john

    Most of you have some education to take on this topic. I am a certified instructor with both NAUI and PADI, have been diving for 34 years and have taught SCUBA for over 10 years. The facts?

    For GLENN: just because it is a certification dive does not mean it is not an embolism. In fact, if the statement of the instructor holds true, embolism is the most likely suspect as the instructor may have missed the diver not exhaling on ascent. Both NAUI and PADI have requirements for testing a student’s ability and knowledge regarding what we call an ESA (Emergency Swimming Ascent), during which a simulated ‘out of air’ emergency is undertaken. If the student hods their breath AND the instructor does not catch it – Injury will occur!

    For MUFON:
    Most laypersons confuse the “Bends” with “Embolism”. They are two distinctly different diving sicknesses that arise from two separate diving issues. In the case we are looking at, the BENDS is not an issue unless the diver was previously at great depth for extended periods of time. Not to say he needed to be at 100′ for an hour, because everyone is different and every day is different. But knowing Catalina Island the way I do? I say this was a basic course and that restricts all dives to a max depth of 30′. So what else? It is almost certain that this is an Air Embolism.

    For JK:

    To address WHY it is most certainly an A.I.? The greatest pressure change is in the first 30′ of depth. At the surface (sea level) you are under atmospheric pressure of 14.7psi. (1 atm) at 30′ you are at 29.4psi (2atm). The 30′ drop has DOUBLED your pressure! Most divers don’t ever quite understand this and are very confused, thinking that shallow dives keep them 100% safe. NOT TRUE IF YOU HOLD YOU BREATH DURING YOUR ASSENT!

    So, for all of you that are rendering UNQUALIFIED opinions on the topic… I hope you will either SHUT THE HECK UP or take a Certification Course and learn the facts about diving, diving risks and the associated medical emergencies associated with diving. After a basic and advanced course, you can take the equivalent of a “Rescue Diver” course that will help you identify and treat most scuba diving accidents. I have assisted with more than 20 rescues myself over the past 34 years and am proud to say that I helped save every persons life.

    Stop “Guessing” and trying to impress. Learn the real real or shut up

  • john


    I am “john”, not to be confused with the idiot “John”.


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