Inquest held into twin deaths The Gloucester coroner has heard how a diving pair perished together at the National Diving Centre near Chepstow, Monmouthshire on Good Friday last year.
Janine Davison-Evans, 27, from Stockton-on-Tees and Hank Austin, 25, from Ascot had entered the water for a dive using conventional air scuba equipment. Centre staff realised they were missing when the duty manager, Kieron Stringwell, noted their parked car late in the day.
Stringwell located the bodies at a depth of 65m after several days of searching by police divers, using sonar and an ROV. 'I could see their bodies on a layer of crushed rock at the bottom of a wall,' he told the inquest. 'One diver was on top of the other. They were both facing upwards.'
Pathologist Dr Ian Calder stated that Davison-Evans had died from barotrauma from burst lung, a condition caused by making a rapid ascent without sufficient exhalation of expanding air. The 'primary cause' of Austin's death was drowning.
The coroner queried the lack of any system to check divers in and out of the water. Centre MD Stuart Pelham-Davis acknowledged that a system such as wristbands could help identify absent divers, but questioned its effect.
'Whether it would have worked or not (alerted staff in time to save the divers) is a different matter,' he said. 'The system we used [provision of a standby search and rescue team, able to administer CPR and emergency oxygen] is used in diving centres all over the country.'
Pelham-Davis added that the National Diving Centre, at Dayhouse Quarry, Tidenham near Chepstow, is approved by the HSE and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Related links Two divers fail to surface at National Diving Centre National Diving Centre website