Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by elle » Sun, 10 Nov 1996 04:00:00


I don't know to many of the details about this so if you can add
anything (or I'm wrong) let me know!

Last weekend in Washington (or maybe Oregon) a woman and her husband
were diving trying to recover a friend snowmobile a about 120ft.  
Apparently it was very dark (don't know if they had lights), and she got
tangled in the lines they had attached to it.  Her husband (who was also
tangled a bit) supposedly signalled her to drop her weight belt to
ascend, he thought she saw and he headed for the surface as they were
pushing their limits (I don't know if that means air, time or both).  
She never made it.  She had been certified about a year with many of her
dives to these depths (and apparently they liked to brag about how they
pushed the limits).  The funeral was held in Oregon (where they are
from) on Thusday.  

keep blowin' bubbles!
Kelly

 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by Bo » Sun, 10 Nov 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

>dives to these depths (and apparently they liked to brag about how they
>pushed the limits).  The funeral was held in Oregon (where they are

        Those two phrases together tells it all!

 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by David Johns » Tue, 12 Nov 1996 04:00:00


Quote:
>I don't know to many of the details about this so if you can add
>anything (or I'm wrong) let me know!

<snip>
Below is the text of a newspaper article from the Wenatchee World (the
local newspaper).  I am posting it here only after much thought.  The
original usenet post appears to be inaccurate in at least the depth
the dive was at.  The original usenet post also wasn't even certain of
the state the accident occured in let alone name the specific
location.  In the interest of trying to present a more accurate
picture, I decided to include the article.  I also wish to express my
sympathy to the Bondottis.

The original post mentioned that they "bragged" about pushing the
limits.  Unless the poster has some first (or even second) hand
information, this seems unsupported at this point.   At least the
original post said "I don't know to [sic] many of the details about
this so if you can add anything (or I'm wrong) let me know!".  

As if this original post was the gospel, others have already pounced
on this phrase and pronounced the cause of the accident -- all while
knowing nothing more than second hand (or worse), incomplete
information.  

Clearly, a tragedy happened that day and a human being lost their
life.  I could now speculate (or pontificate) about the mistakes made
that Saturday but I won't -- all I have going for me is a good
knowledge of diving, a knowledge of the environment in which the
accident took place (although I have not dived that lake) and a local
newspaper article.  Not enough information for me to draw definitive
conclusions from.

I do believe that accidents need to be discussed in an objective way
that helps us to avoid other accidents.  While the original post was
well intentioned, at least one follow up post comes across as mean
spirited towards the affected individuals.  

"WENATCHEE - Lake Wenatchee resident Bonny Jo Bendotti died in a scuba
diving accident at Lake Wenatchee Saturday while trying to recover a
snowmobile at the bottom of the lake. Bendotti was the sister-in-law
of Chelan County Commissioner Tom Green.

Bonny, 43, and her husband, Gene, a member of the Chelan County
Planning Commission, had gone to the lake to help recover a friend's
specially equipped snowmobile that had fallen into the lake during a
race in August, according to sheriff's deputies. The snowmobile was
located about 150 yards offshore from the salmon net pens near the
Cougar Inn, Chelan County sheriff's deputies said.

The couple, who were certified to dive last spring but who did not
have a lot of diving experience, had gone underwater three times
before locating the snowmobile at 2:30 p.m. in 80 to 100 feet of
water, deputies said.

According to witnesses, the Bendottis got new air tanks and were
making their fourth dive at 3:15 p.m. to secure ropes to the
snowmobile when both of them got tangled in the ropes. Gene was able
to free himself by releasing his weight belt and tried to signal to
his wife to do the same. But as he was surfacing he lost track of her
because of the dim light at that depth, deputies said.

Charlie Johnston, manager of the East Wenatchee Water District and a
close friend of the Bendottis who was helping with the salvage effort
in a nearby boat, said Gene immediately looked for his wife as he
surfaced.

"He told us that Bonny was in trouble, and we called for help right
away," Johnston said.

But Gene was the only person with diving equipment at the scene, and
without his weightbelt he could not return to that depth. By the time
Chelan County rescue personnel arrived, Mrs. Bendotti had already been
underwater for quite some time.

Johnston said the Bendottis were a close couple who did everything
together - including boating, snowmobiling and diving.

"She was a bubbly, vivacious, neat, neat lady," Johnston said. "They
were very personable people and were looking forward to spending time
on their boat together next year. It is just a horrible tragedy."

The couple used to own Wenatchee Roofing but recently sold the
business, Johnston said. They have three children.

Deputies estimate Mrs. Bendotti was underwater for more than two hours
before rescue divers found her near the snowmobile and brought her to
the surface about 6 p.m. An autopsy was scheduled today.

Chelan County officials said detectives are still investigating the
incident, checking to see if any of the diving equipment
malfunctioned. " [Source: Wenatchee World Newspaper, Local Section]

Finally off of my soapbox...


 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by Prof. Vincent Branniga » Tue, 12 Nov 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> Clearly, a tragedy happened that day and a human being lost their
> life.  I could now speculate (or pontificate) about the mistakes made
> that Saturday but I won't -- all I have going for me is a good
> knowledge of diving, a knowledge of the environment in which the
> accident took place (although I have not dived that lake) and a local
> newspaper article.  Not enough information for me to draw definitive
> conclusions from.

News article

Quote:
> The couple, who were certified to dive last spring but who did not
> have a lot of diving experience, had gone underwater three times
> before locating the snowmobile at 2:30 p.m. in 80 to 100 feet of
> water, deputies said.

new divers, repetitive dives, deep water

 According to witnesses, the Bendottis got new air tanks and were

Quote:
> making their fourth dive at 3:15 p.m. to secure ropes to the
> snowmobile when both of them got tangled in the ropes.

taking ropes underwater, questionable surface interval

 Gene was able

Quote:
> to free himself by releasing his weight belt and tried to signal to
> his wife to do the same. But as he was surfacing he lost track of her
> because of the dim light at that depth, deputies said.

poor visbility

OK.  lets have the opinion of the experts on repetitive
salvage diving, no surface support or back up, in a murky environment by new divers
at 80-100 feet.

vince

 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by Nigel Pon » Wed, 13 Nov 1996 04:00:00

I think this was an accident which was waiting to happen. Search and
recovery is a specialized business not something you do for a friend at
the weekend. It requires planning, surface support and careful
management. None of these were apparent here. After locating the
snowmobile on dive 2 or 3 they should have attached a buoy to it and got
expert help.

While I have every sympathy for the victim's familyt it seems they were
under eqipped and ill prepared...

 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by Patrick van Es » Wed, 13 Nov 1996 04:00:00


...

: new divers, repetitive dives, deep water

...

: taking ropes underwater, questionable surface interval

...

: poor visbility

: OK.  lets have the opinion of the experts on repetitive
: salvage diving, no surface support or back up, in a murky environment by new divers
: at 80-100 feet.

Just my $0.02: a sad, but pretty obvious accident, due to panic and
lack of experience: what do you do when you get entangled ? Drop your
weight ?? No, you stay calm, and by gentle movements try to free yourself.
If that doesn't help, you cut your way out (that's why you have a knife).
Once you're free you DON'T surface but help your partner.  
The question is, where they reckless or simply a bit naive and didn't
they know/realise that they were doing things beyond their abilities.
As another poster puts it, it is always a tragedy when someone looses
his/her life diving.  But from the description of the accident, it was
more or less logical that it happened.
What can be learned from this ?   I don't know.  Maybe that qualifying
agencies (I don't know, where they PADI, CMAS, NAUI ?) should stress
the importance of knowing your limits and always have enough "experience"
in the group ?  It will depend on the fact if these people were tricked
into believing they were ready for this kind of operation by their
instructors or whether they deliberately did things - well knowing they
were playing dangerous games.

cheers,
Patrick.

--
Patrick Van Esch


 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by Mike Walla » Wed, 13 Nov 1996 04:00:00

On 11 Nov 1996 21:55:40 GMT, "Prof. Vincent Brannigan"

Quote:

>OK.  lets have the opinion of the experts on repetitive
>salvage diving, no surface support or back up, in a murky environment by new divers
>at 80-100 feet.

>vince

Opinion's or not, expert or not, these people should not have been
doing this dive based on the information provided by the newspaper
article.

My condolences to the family and friends of the victims.

========================================
Mike Wallace    [\]
Huntsville, Alabama
Just another shitty day in paradise....
34 deg 42' N        86 deg 35' W
========================================

 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by Larry Whit » Wed, 13 Nov 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> I think this was an accident which was waiting to happen. Search and
> recovery is a specialized business not something you do for a friend at
> the weekend. It requires planning, surface support and careful
> management. None of these were apparent here. After locating the
> snowmobile on dive 2 or 3 they should have attached a buoy to it and got
> expert help.

> While I have every sympathy for the victim's familyt it seems they were
> under eqipped and ill prepared...

Flame away if you like, but...

I am VERY sorry to hear about a diver's death.  What bothers me the most
is that he was totally wasting his time.  The more snowmobiles that end
up as artificial reefs the better.

 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by David Johns » Thu, 14 Nov 1996 04:00:00


Quote:

>Just my $0.02: a sad, but pretty obvious accident, due to panic and
>lack of experience: what do you do when you get entangled ? Drop your
>weight ?? No, you stay calm, and by gentle movements try to free yourself.
>If that doesn't help, you cut your way out (that's why you have a knife).
>Once you're free you DON'T surface but help your partner.  
>The question is, where they reckless or simply a bit naive and didn't
>they know/realise that they were doing things beyond their abilities.

IF the article was accurate, it seems clear that decisions made by the
divers greatly increased their risk.  I agree 100% with your approach
to working out the problem of entanglement.  That lake is very cold
and it is likely that fatigue and possible hypothermia could have
played roles as well as lack of experience and training.

Quote:
>As another poster puts it, it is always a tragedy when someone looses
>his/her life diving.  But from the description of the accident, it was
>more or less logical that it happened.

It is always a fine line between analyzing fatal accidents (which are
nearly always tragic) in an objective manner and "blaming the victim."
I am all for the former and find the latter distasteful at best.
IMHO, we all make choices when we dive and those choices can increase
or mitigate the risk in diving.  Diving (like everything else) has
risks and decisions which made by a diver can have tragic
consequences.  We should talk about decisions that were made and how
those related to the accident.  IF the news account is correct, these
divers did make decisions (covered well by others) that *greatly*
increased the risk of the dive.

What I do have a problem with is rather glib replies that tend to


"dives to these depths (and apparently they liked to brag about how
they pushed the limits).  The funeral was held in Oregon (where they
are "

and then Bob added: "Those two phrases together tells it all!"  

Bob's comment to me is really only a slam on the victims.  It provided
no new facts, doesn't really qualify as insightful analysis,  and was
based on an incomplete (and at best) third hand account.  It also
comes across (at least to me) as mean spirited.

Quote:
>What can be learned from this ?   I don't know.  Maybe that qualifying
>agencies (I don't know, where they PADI, CMAS, NAUI ?) should stress
>the importance of knowing your limits and always have enough "experience"
>in the group ?  It will depend on the fact if these people were tricked
>into believing they were ready for this kind of operation by their
>instructors or whether they deliberately did things - well knowing they
>were playing dangerous games.
>cheers,
>Patrick.
-
>Patrick Van Esch



Cheers to Nigel, Patrick (and others) who have added value to the
discussion by providing meaningful analysis and comment.


 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by Prof. Vincent Branniga » Thu, 14 Nov 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> It is always a fine line between analyzing fatal accidents (which are
> nearly always tragic) in an objective manner and "blaming the victim."

In an otherwise very fine post, I would suggest that this point uses
incorrect language.  The term "blaming the victim" applies to those
situations where there is a perpetrator who commits a wrongful act, yet we
somehow hold the victim of that act blameworthy . The classic
example is the*** victim wearing a short skirt.  Unfortunately it does not
add anything to the analysis of this type of accident, unless the
entire system of certifying scuba divers is somehow the perpetrator.

I'm not sure in this case that there is any kind of perpetrator
other than the victim.  

On the other hand, there is a culture among some divers that
sees a focus on safety as somehow "wimpy".  I have seen
divers with fewer than 5 dives under their belt being urged to
make 125 FSW dives.  I have personally been told that if I
didn't "have what it takes" to do penetration dives at 90
feet, then I should just "forget diving". I have seen divers
insult captains  about a 1500 psi surface check, (in 30 ft water),
and then have those same divers surface 200 yards down current
unable to return.  

I don't know if its something they put in the compressed air,
but  diving seems to just make some people lose all common sense.

Vince
Wimp diver

 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by Kevin-Neil Kl » Thu, 14 Nov 1996 04:00:00


Quote:


> > It is always a fine line between analyzing fatal accidents (which are
> > nearly always tragic) in an objective manner and "blaming the victim."

> In an otherwise very fine post, I would suggest that this point uses
> incorrect language.  The term "blaming the victim" applies to those
> situations where there is a perpetrator who commits a wrongful act, yet we
> somehow hold the victim of that act blameworthy . The classic
> example is the*** victim wearing a short skirt.  Unfortunately it does not
> add anything to the analysis of this type of accident, unless the
> entire system of certifying scuba divers is somehow the perpetrator.

> I'm not sure in this case that there is any kind of perpetrator
> other than the victim.  

> On the other hand, there is a culture among some divers that
> sees a focus on safety as somehow "wimpy".  I have seen
> divers with fewer than 5 dives under their belt being urged to
> make 125 FSW dives.  I have personally been told that if I
> didn't "have what it takes" to do penetration dives at 90
> feet, then I should just "forget diving". I have seen divers
> insult captains  about a 1500 psi surface check, (in 30 ft water),
> and then have those same divers surface 200 yards down current
> unable to return.  

> I don't know if its something they put in the compressed air,
> but  diving seems to just make some people lose all common sense.

> Vince
> Wimp diver

Vince,

You and I have butted heads (especially about the "I use less air, why do
I have to come up because the newly-minted people use their air in half
the time I do" issue.

However, on this one, I agree with you about 95%.  Safety, while not cool,
is of the utmost importance.  One of the things that I stress to all my
students is that a "good" dive is one in which everyone gets back to the
shore in e same condition (except for a slight bit of excess nitrogen)
than they left it.  everything else is icing on the cake.

The one place I disagree with you is the "1500 PSI" check.  I have yet to
not make it back to the boat under my own power (although I did have to
swim pretty far DOWN current to get back - I had misjudged the strength of
the current (thought it was stronger than it was) and swam too far
upcurrent.

On the other hand, I'm usually under the boat with about 1000 PSI left in
the tank OR if I'm unsure where the boat is, I'm on the surface figuring
it out ::grin::.

keep being a "wimp" diver - that's how you'll continue to BE a diver.

               -- Kevin --

--
Death is not a problem.  Fear of death is.

 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by Ron L » Thu, 14 Nov 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

>I think this was an accident which was waiting to happen. Search and
>recovery is a specialized business not something you do for a friend at
>the weekend. It requires planning, surface support and careful
>management. None of these were apparent here. After locating the
>snowmobile on dive 2 or 3 they should have attached a buoy to it and got
>expert help.
>While I have every sympathy for the victim's familyt it seems they were
>under eqipped and ill prepared...

Unfortunately, there is probably no way to have most divers learn from
this incident.  From my experience (limited it may be), certification
agencies do not spend enough time stressing the real dangers of scuba
diving.  Mostly the dangers come from being unprepared or poorly
trained/experienced, for a given dive situation.

I would be a greater risk than I want to accept were I to attempt a
typical cave dive.  I could do it with the right training and
equipment, but right now, I might become another statistic.  When dive
agwencies cover these type accidents in detail, we might see a
reduction. Until then, expect to see them occur with too great a
frequency.

Ron Lee
bubba diver

 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by Bill Burnet » Thu, 14 Nov 1996 04:00:00


Quote:
>OK.  lets have the opinion of the experts on repetitive
>salvage diving, no surface support or back up, in a murky environment by new divers
>at 80-100 feet.

Hmmm, is this what we need the opinion of experts on?  It should have
been clear to anyone that this was not a good idea.

They were in a situation they weren't trained for, then something went
wrong and they didn't know what to do.

Either these people didn't know the risks, in which case their
instructors failed them, or they did know the risks but thought they
could handle them, in which case their instructors failed them, or they
knew the risks but didn't care (unlikely).  

People are always going to seek to expand their experience, so they need
to be taught how to react to things that weren't necessarily in OW1.
"Don't do that, you haven't done the specialty" is *not* going to stop
people from dying.  Agencies need to recognise that not everyone's going
to sign up for the next course, so the basic qualification *must* include
the basics of rescue.  That means lifts, tows, and CPR at the very least.
Not necessarily even because these are required skills... in many
situations they'll be inappropriate. But we should try and make sure
people are prepared for emergencies by training them to deal with
practice emergencies under simulated stress.  They *won't* be identical
to real situations, every situation is different. They *will* teach
people how to react to the unexpected, how to assess a situation and how
to implement a rescue.  By having the broadest possible training you
improve the chances of reacting appropriately to a real situation.

Yep, its back to those rescue drills that no one wants to do
because it means recognising you can't become a proficient diver in five
days.

Bill

 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by J Shephe » Thu, 14 Nov 1996 04:00:00

Quote:


>>dives to these depths (and apparently they liked to brag about how they
>>pushed the limits).  The funeral was held in Oregon (where they are
>    Those two phrases together tells it all!

        No they don't. Flippancy when someone dies is never called for,
and reflects very badly on you.

        The question in mind was why they were working so fast; I'll
make a few assumptions.

        i) Daylength was short.
        ii) They wanted to do this in the one day (why?)
        iii) They couldn't get a boat and sounder, or the bottom wasn't
suitable for showing up a snowmobile, and they didn't have access to a
magnetometer.
        iv) They didn't know too many other divers.

        Now picture the scene, they've been diving in *cold* water; four
times in one day. This is *tough*. Nobody on here who hasn't tried this
is *any* position to comment on how knackered they are likely to have
been.

        They were 'deep' as in, they felt they were approaching a limit.
100-120ft in cold water is a time to start taking things seriously -
especially if they intended task loading with ropes, search and recovery
etc.

        As an example, S&R used to be a required drill for BSAC advanced
divers - about 100 dives in mixed conditions, up to date diving
experience. At 30-40m, not something to do the first rope work on. There
is a very good chance that they bit off more than they chew, taskwise, on
such a dive.

        Add exhaustion, worries about deco - I'd expect that they did so
many dives because they were doing no-stop dives, I'll bet a computer
was involved, and I'll bet no-one had pointed out that doing 30' at 30m
*and* the stops, is safer than two dives to total 30' at 30m, with the
ascents etc, in an attempt to avoid stops. Especially under DCI loading
conditions, such as cold and work.

        They were likely to be stressed. Now given the ropes and stress,
it is perhaps not surprising that an incident occurred, that the
responses led to an accident, and given the seriousness of the
situation, that that accident lead to a fatality.

        *That does not give you the right to be flippant* nor to slam
them indiscriminately.

        Here were two people prepared to dive under their own terms, to
do dives that quite frankly most divers around the world would shit
themselves on, who were (it *appears*) under educated for the task; who
were unable to receive instant and useful advice on the best way to plan
and execute a series of dives to recover a sunken object.

        A dozen divers like that would be a force to be reckoned with -
and worth a hundred deco shy warm water know-all's who dislike any diving
where more than a dive skin is required.

        So let's have some decorum and respect.

        Points raised by this *have* to include -

        a) do not coerce anybody, including yourself, into a dive.
        b) practice with lines in shallow water and good conditions.
        c) limit task oriented diving to 2 dives per day (cold)
        d) observe *proper* decompression rules - 4 in one day.... :-(
        e) learn what serious diving is, and learn from people who know.

        That last one means making diving friends and asking them how
things are done, not being required to make it up from a PADI manual and
thin air. If you *really* want a good start try BSACs sport diving
manual and Advanced Sport diving manual. An active club would be best.
Don't walk out of a shop and expect to be able to raise the titanic, and
don't walk into one expecting to learn that.

        f) teach properly, don't weenie on the hard stuff. (yes PADI,
this means you).

        My commiserations and regrets to whom it may concern.

        Jason

 
 
 

Diver dies trying to recover snowmobile

Post by J Shephe » Thu, 14 Nov 1996 04:00:00

BB said

Either these people didn't know the risks, in which case their
instructors failed them, or they did know the risks but thought they
could handle them, in which case their instructors failed them, or they
knew the risks but didn't care (unlikely).

        Which was quicker and more to the point than what I said, and
deserves much more attention.

        And he's right.

        Jason