Incident Report

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

Near-Death by Mannikin

Incident Date

1970-01-01

Incident Description

I have had one or two interesting incidents over the years but this one was somewhat surreal.... Location: Cathedral Cave in S-Wales (or Tunnel) in the small sump in the showcave sometime in 93-94. I was in the company of another diver who wanted to do some videography. Couple of things occured here that I found to be very entertaining. From recollection the sump began as a body(ish)-sized tube down a gravel slope before it opened up into larger passage. At the beginning of the sump and leaning up against the wall was a mannikin (sp?) dressed as a cave diver complete with cylinders AND lead. It was simply propped against the wall straddling the line. Not very secure. The other diver was about to enter the water when I suggested that the zipper loop on the back of his drysuit was a potential snag point and would be safer if it were secured with a snoopy loop around his arm to prevent leaks. After ignoring me he went underwater and came back two minutes later having snagged his loop and managed to partially unzip himself underwater. Cold and irritated bloke. I on the other hand was warm and smug... Upon exiting the water hed managed to de-stabilise the mannikin. A few minutes later he went underwater again and by this time the mannikin was now slumping. Protected by my youth and inexperience I simply pushed the beast out of the way and went diving. Some time later we turned around and headed out. I was first to the exit and was appalled to discover that a large pair of fins were almost totally blocking the body-sized tube near the entrance to the sump! The dummy had slid into the sump and filled with water and was now an almost immovable object blocking our exit. Not a chance of pushing it up the slope and I couldnt drag it towards me for fear of wedging it. Dont recall much finesse being employed to save my hide that day just a lot of sweat. I seem to remember a fair amount of struggling to get past the thing to reach surface. Have this vision in my mind of squeezing and thrutchingn over Terminator-style object with lifeless eyes staring up at me through the mask. Very creepy but did make me laugh at how ridiculous the situation was. Actually could almost have been homo-erotic what with all the rubber masks and webbing action going on! With hindsight I guess that I could have tried to dismantle the monster but I was probably a bit too cold to think straight! Once out of the water I think that I may have been a little bit guilty of pushing the mannikin further into the sump to make my companions exit more interesting. As he had a video camera and lighting it was even more exciting. Sorry about that Ian! Joel Corrigan

Lessons Learned

Er dont put lead on a mannikin unless you want to add entertainment. Dont simply straddle it over the dive line. Think this sort of thing should be included in the Qualification Test. Worth securing that dry suit zip with a snoopy loop. Dont dive in show caves unless theyre packed with French school girls (why arent the Welsh caves as popular as Wookey?!)
Factors
Line Management Major
Gas Management Unknown
Equipment Management Major
Equipment Failure Unknown
Training Unknown
Medical Unknown
Planning Unknown
Procedural Error Unknown
Cave Environment Major
Weather Unknown
Other Factor Major