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Old 29th August 2012, 15:29   #1 (permalink)
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Rebreather Death in Galapagos

2 weeks ago I got a call from my mom that my father who has well over 1000 dives but around 40 on his rebreather died while diving Darwins Arch. The autopsy said Hypoxia of the Brain and lungs due to Larangyospasm. I think even with his experience and the fact he dove the prior 2 days with his rebreather that this equipment could have caused his death. Anyone who is interested n discussing the details of this please continue this thread. Note he was at 30 ft going to a meeting point at 60 ft and before the divemaster saw him he was gone. Not in in sight.
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Old 29th August 2012, 15:44   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Rebreather Death in Galapagos

Quote: (Originally Posted by stevenki) View Original Post
2 weeks ago I got a call from my mom that my father who has well over 1000 dives but around 40 on his rebreather died while diving Darwins Arch. The autopsy said Hypoxia of the Brain and lungs due to Larangyospasm. I think even with his experience and the fact he dove the prior 2 days with his rebreather that this equipment could have caused his death. Anyone who is interested n discussing the details of this please continue this thread. Note he was at 30 ft going to a meeting point at 60 ft and before the divemaster saw him he was gone. Not in in sight.

I am very sorry for your loss. I have no doubt you are trying to get your head around how this can happen.

Do you understand how a CCR works?

Assuming you don't then let me explain how a diver can become hypoxic.

1: The ccr can fail to provide 02

or

2: The CCR is providing 02 but the equipment telling the diver how much 02 is faulty


Lets start with scenario 2

The unit tells the diver he has enough 02 but in fact it is not able to support life. MostCCR will run a partial pressure of 02 at between 1.0 and 1.3

At 30ft (10m) that represents a breathing mix in the loop of 50% to 65%

For the diver to go hypoxic he would have to breath the loop down to below 0.16%

as he goes deeper his PP02 will raise so going deeper at this point helps

For the diver to drop to below 0.16 he will loose between 34% and 49% of the loop volume in his CCR. This would cause him to sink and would normally be noticed

On the decent the diver should be closely monitoring his PP02. even with an electronically monitored PP02 it will change a lot during decent so if the display is fixed on a single point it should be apparent there is a problem.

Any concern over CCR displayed values can be explained by either spiking the PPo2 using manual 02 injection or manually injecting diluent. QED this type of failure should be noticeable and manageable.

Scinario1: Failure to inject 02

This could be due to multiple failures such as solenoid failure, controller failure and even just running out of 02.

It would result at worst in a low PP02 reading on the most basic manual CCR up to flashing lights buzzers and warnings on the more exotic equipment.

Regardless of which the fix is to manually inject 02 or to bailout to OC



The other way in which o2 can fail to sustain life is to rapid ascend faster than the unit can provide 02 to the diver. From your description this doesn't appear to be the case.


Diving a CCR is a lot like driving a modern car. You have ABS and traction control but people still crash. Its tragic but theres only so much you can expect of the car. Worse still, we have grown into a society where we just expect the ABS to work. I am sure in the small print it will tell you not to rely on it but we still do.

If you have more detailed information ie which unit he was diving and was it recovered / tested, we could discuss the finer points of the way in which it functions.

Mark

Last edited by Mark Chase; 29th August 2012 at 16:05..
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Old 29th August 2012, 15:55   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Rebreather Death in Galapagos

I understand. I also understand you can go very fast with this technology if an error is made. It was my understanding that at 3-35ft he probably blacked out from lack of O2. He then went straight to 145-150ft. where he was found 4 min after the dive began and back to the surface by 7min and on the panga doing cpr by 8-10 min. Too late. He had bitten through his tongue. Obviously a seizure but one that happened after he was out.
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Old 29th August 2012, 15:58   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Rebreather Death in Galapagos

Quote: (Originally Posted by stevenki) View Original Post
2 weeks ago I got a call from my mom that my father who has well over 1000 dives but around 40 on his rebreather died while diving Darwins Arch. The autopsy said Hypoxia of the Brain and lungs due to Larangyospasm. I think even with his experience and the fact he dove the prior 2 days with his rebreather that this equipment could have caused his death. Anyone who is interested n discussing the details of this please continue this thread. Note he was at 30 ft going to a meeting point at 60 ft and before the divemaster saw him he was gone. Not in in sight.
i am honestly very sorry for your loss. your post has kept me looking at it trying to decide if i would do good to reply or not.

also continuing from what Mark said i am trying to figure out if it would eventually bring more harm to your soul, or not.

i have gone through the same route long time ago with my father. not a dive relater accident but i had to go through watching his autopsy trying to figure what happened exactly and why...

it a messed up situation. a constant string of questions of "what if" which never sort of ends.

although there are many many more experienced and educated rebreather divers on this forum, i would be very glad to try and answer anything i can for you, hopefully you will get your inner peace.

please pm me, anytime you wish.

my sincere condolences.

Spyros
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Old 29th August 2012, 16:08   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Rebreather Death in Galapagos

I am in the medical business and I see terrible things happen all the time. I understand the risks here. I am not trying to point fingers but with hundreds of rebreather deaths I am wondering if going down this path just because of the benefits really outweigh risks. My father was diving Poseidon Mark VI (Discovery Equipment) top notch stuff. I think one of the valves was sent to an independent agency to check if something went wrong on the equipment side or if it was a technical mistake. I have a hard time believing the technical mistake because he dove 5 dives on that equipment the prior 2 days
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Old 29th August 2012, 16:23   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Rebreather Death in Galapagos

Quote: (Originally Posted by stevenki) View Original Post
I understand. I also understand you can go very fast with this technology if an error is made. It was my understanding that at 3-35ft he probably blacked out from lack of O2. He then went straight to 145-150ft. where he was found 4 min after the dive began and back to the surface by 7min and on the panga doing cpr by 8-10 min. Too late. He had bitten through his tongue. Obviously a seizure but one that happened after he was out.
Sorry my conection is bad and you got my first post in bits.


If the diver had a seizure this is normally related to 02 tox rather than low o2? Low o2 usually results in the diver falling asleep and drowning when the mouthpiece falls out.

Where was the divers buddy?


Also the timing is odd. On a manual CCR the diver should be on 100% 02 at the surface. On an electronic CCR the diver should be on 70% 02 at the surface.

As before as the diver descends the PP02 0f that gas will go up. However if the diver is using a low PP02 diluent it could drop if the diver adds to much diluent. IE if the diver is using air at 0.21 and he replaced 50% of the loop volume with air this could drop the PP02 at 10m.

Regardless it would be near imposable to breath down the PP02 to critical levels jumping in on 0.7 and descending to 10m in 4mins. To do this would need the unit to fail on the surface (Ie not be switched on) or if a manual CCR to be well below 0,7 on the surface.

I can not express enough how important it is to manually monitor a CCR in shallow water or on the surface. This is by far the most dangerous place to be on a CCR and where the diver should be closely monitoring the units performance.

The diver should have spiked the PP02 on the surface and breathed it down to a low set point in order to ensure the unit is performing correctly. For the unit to pass this phase of monitoring and then fail within minuets is incredible bad luck but i stress that close manual monitoring is required during decent in the shallows just as it is during ascent.
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Old 29th August 2012, 16:41   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Rebreather Death in Galapagos

Quote: (Originally Posted by stevenki) View Original Post
I am in the medical business and I see terrible things happen all the time. I understand the risks here. I am not trying to point fingers but with hundreds of rebreather deaths I am wondering if going down this path just because of the benefits really outweigh risks. My father was diving Poseidon Mark VI (Discovery Equipment) top notch stuff. I think one of the valves was sent to an independent agency to check if something went wrong on the equipment side or if it was a technical mistake. I have a hard time believing the technical mistake because he dove 5 dives on that equipment the prior 2 days


You have to understand that the tecnical mistake will only become aparent if the unit failes.

I could take a PADI OW diver to 50m and back on a CCR and as long as the unit worked as it should and the diver breathed in and out OK, he would be fine

However if the diver suffered a unit failure he would most likley have an incident or die

The Poseidon is a heavily automated electronic CCR. Its principle design is for the recreational dive market and as such its designed for minimal imput from the diver but i am sure it is still relient on manual monitoring.

Its a self calibrating unit that should inspect the health of the 02 cell during the dive. In this way it is quite unique among CCR as most are fixed in calibration at the surface.


Of all the units it could have been its one i know the least about. Perhaps a Poseidon user could coment on the protacol for pre dive checks and decent.

ATB

Mark
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Old 29th August 2012, 16:41   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Rebreather Death in Galapagos

it most certainly could be O2. im actually speculating because im not a diver and have only gotten the autopsy results from the galapagos santa cruz as well as soken with people who were on that dive and saw him at 20 ft decending tothe meeting point at 60ft. That was what I was told. At 60 ft the divemaster saw he was missing followed the current and picked him up at 145 ft. he was out at that point. brought him to 90 ft checked him and he was motionless and mouthpiece was out of his mouth. he went straight up and was bent. Im just trying to make sense of what was most likely the cause. As I stated hypoxia of the brain and lungs due to larangyospasm was cause of death with a seizure occuring at some point.
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Old 29th August 2012, 16:43   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Rebreather Death in Galapagos

I have no clue who his buddy was and if they were going to buddy up at the meeting point or as soon as they hit the water. This incident occurred very quickly. less then 2 min in the water
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Old 29th August 2012, 16:47   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Rebreather Death in Galapagos

Quote: (Originally Posted by stevenki) View Original Post
it most certainly could be O2. im actually speculating because im not a diver and have only gotten the autopsy results from the galapagos santa cruz as well as soken with people who were on that dive and saw him at 20 ft decending tothe meeting point at 60ft. That was what I was told. At 60 ft the divemaster saw he was missing followed the current and picked him up at 145 ft. he was out at that point. brought him to 90 ft checked him and he was motionless and mouthpiece was out of his mouth. he went straight up and was bent. Im just trying to make sense of what was most likely the cause. As I stated hypoxia of the brain and lungs due to larangyospasm was cause of death with a seizure occuring at some point.
From what you say, i suspect an o2 hit, and then drowning due to the mouthpiece falling off the mouth.

what gases was used? maybe there was an error into the hoses? instead of diluent addition while descending, an o2 mix-up due to either wrong connections or just plain fault of the diver????

i can't describe it otherwise. doing dives prior to this should have eliminated this scenario... however, bad sleep, tiredness, bad conditions could have contributed...

what makes me believe its an o2, its because of the biting of the mouthpiece. that would definitely be spasm.

please give more detail? what do the group diving with say? the leader? police / marine report?

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