Incident Report

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Incident Report 2020-05-01T16:26:00+00:00

Diver lost with no line to follow

Incident Date


Incident Description

Two divers were involved one a member of the CDG with more than 30 years of experience the other a trainee on his fifth cave dive. The more experienced diver dived first in the resurgence entrance, to locate the climbing rope dive line which starts a short distance into the sump proper. He quickly returned to say that he had found the line but conditions in the sump were not good, with the water described as \"\"brown\"\" and about 30cm-50cm visibility. After agreeing to proceed, the less experienced diver then passed Sump 1, followed by the more experienced. Both divers then proceeded against the fast flowing current in the River Chambers to the start of Sump 3. Slightly perturbed by the motley collection of dive lines leading off, the less experienced diver decided to proceed no further. Going with the current a quick return was made to the start of Sump 1. The less experienced diver dived first and reached the end of the dive line tied off in the sump. Leaving the dive line and moving up vertically he was alarmed to find no daylight and air but only a solid rock roof which he struck with his helmet. In the near zero visibility the diver managed to descend to where the line was tied off. Another attempt was made to locate the way out. Again moving up vertically off the line but higher than last time, no roof was struck this time but rather unexpectedly the diver popped up into a narrow kicking-water air bell 2-3 metres high. He thought that he was well off the line now and started to look for places to tie his search reel line to. It is at this point that he noticed that he had managed to loose his search reel and knife! Rather than try and make what he thought was another risky attempt to find his way out the diver decided to take his helmet off and shine the light down into the water to attempt to attract the other divers attention. It was at this point that he spotted the other diver passing below him and heading out. It appeared that he had not seen him. Finding no diver on the surface the more experienced diver re-entered the sump to try and locate the lost diver. The first inkling that the diver in the air bell had, that he had been found was when he felt his legs being pulled forcibly downwards. Apparently he had spotted his yellow fins dangling downwards. With his helmet off and no regulator in his mouth the lost diver managed to sort this out double quick and follow the other diver to the surface.

Lessons Learned

A jump line connected from the surface to where the dive line started within the sump would have helped guide the less experienced diver in the poor visibility, The experienced diver also commented,if it had occurred to the lost diver to switch off his lights, he would have probably been able to use the day light filtering down through the water to find his way out. The lost diver certainly misjudged the angle of exit from the end of dive line back to the surface- not vertical but more like 45 degrees.
Line Management Major
Gas Management Negligible
Equipment Management Major
Equipment Failure Negligible
Training Major
Medical Negligible
Planning Major
Procedural Error Major
Cave Environment Major
Weather Negligible
Other Factor Unknown