Copied from original posting by Frederic Badier on the yahoo group (francecavediving);

Hello all,

I have been involved in the rescue operation in Goul du Pont last week and can
give some information. But keep in mind that despite of my backgournd on
rebreather I am not certified in buddy inspiration units, so I may misinterpret
some of the data collected. Sorry for this.

First, the cave diver was an experienced Polish cave diver diving with a Buddy
inspiration and with more than two years of experience with depths in relation
with the dive site. He was diving solo.

He has two cylinders as a back up with him when we found the body at 105 m deep.
One of the cylinder was Tx 10/70 and the other one was Nitrox. Both cylinders
were fully operationnal and untouched (2nd stage in position)

His VR3 shown us a max depth of 107m and the body was found at 105 m deep. the
Buddy slave display was on, showing all 3 Cells being with the 0.9 to 0.92
range. The master display wasn't check at this stage of the recovery. The
mouthpiece was equipped with an OC option from www.master.pl and open out of the
diver mouth. Both buddy cylinders were operationnal and had gas. The VR3 shown
that the Gas choosen was Tx 10/70 and set in CC mode with a set point at 0.70
bar.

From -105m , the body was lift up to 80m ( up to the entrance of the horizontal
gallerie) after closing the mouthpiece. During the ascent, the rescue diver
listened the buddy alarm and the O2 injection. The body was left until the next
day at this depth, the rebreather control was left on with the cylinders open.
We think that the diver had teh accident on descent.

On the next day (friday), the body was pull out of the cave, and equipment
inspection carried out with the local authority. I personnaly participated to
this inspection.

On surface, the displays were dead this resulting probably from the O2 valve
firing all night long , as a result the O2 cylinder was then empty. All buoyancy
control systems (wing, dry suit) were fully operationnal. The mouthpiece with
the OC was operationnal; The buddy counterlung inflators were operationnal. the
diver back up lights were operationnal.

The buddy was flooded as a result of the accident (assumption). The 3 O2 cells
were in place ( R22D type), we were not authorised to remove them, dry them and
test them. Their conditions are unknown. Teh diver did the calibration prior the
dive. The unit was equipped with a HUD (3 LEDs). An additionnal port for the VR3
cell was fit to the rebreather but it was not connected to the VR3 unit. We
don't know if a cell was in place, the police did not allow us to verify it.

The cylinder within the rebreather were not marked (apart from the oxygenone).
We were not authorised to check the diluant composition, Police will verify in
laboratory.

I personnally did not find anything strange or abnormal in the chosen
configuration, it seems in line with the current Buddy inspiration practices. It
looks like that the diver lost conscience at depth and drown. He did not try to
use one of his back up, he was not entangled or out of buoyancy control.

I discussed with the Polish team who were deeply affected by the accident. They
stayed around until the body of their friend was recovered and insisted in
viewing their friend for the last time once on surface. Then they decided to go
diving as an "hommage " to their friend. It is a way for a small community to
show respect to a deceased relative. I can appreciate this and understand.

I wonder if things could have been different if the VR3 cell was connected to
the computer thus showing a fourth 02 PpO2 independant from the unit. We don't
know for the moment if a detail investigation will be conducted. The french
authority will decide, but the victim not being french their is a little chance
that they will do so. Anyway , i am not sure what can be discovered, I do know
if legal medecine can determine if a hyperoxia did happen. Gas sampling within
the rebreather loop at depth would have been a key element but we were not
prepared for this.

The rescue operation was directed by the SSF (Spéleo Secours Francais). I
recommend all of you to have a contact number with you when diving in France.
The call for this accident was indirect ( divers called in poland, then Poland
called us). It may save few hours which makes a difference some time.

Safe dives to you wherever you dive.

fred