Mar10-2008 - IUCRR

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Note:  The following form information was transcribed from hand-written notes.  

March 10, 2008 - Devils System, Ginnie Springs, High Springs, Gilcrest County, FL

RescueOrRecoveryOrNearMiss = Recovery
TodaysDate = 3/11/08
TimeOfAccident = 20:30 ET
DateOfAccident = 3/10/08
County/State/Country = Gilcrest County, FL
a_NameOfAccidentSite = Devils Ear System
   Ginnie Springs Outdoors
   7300 NE Ginnie Springs Rd.
   High Springs, FL 32643
DateRecoveryStarted = 3/10/08
TimeRecoveryStarted = 09:00 ET
AgeOfVictim = 35
SexOfVictim = Male
VictimsHighestCertLevel = CCR Cave
CertAgency = IANTD
DateOfTraining = 11/2007
YrsExperienceDiving = 10+

Note:  Other certifications:  Technical Cave Instructor (IANTD), DPV (NACD), Technical Cave (IANTD), Technical Trimix Instructor (PADI), Technical Deep Instructor (PADI), Master Scuba Diver Trainer (PADI),

TotalNumberOfDives =
NumberOfDivesThisYear =
TrainedInCaveDiving = Yes
CaveDivingTrainingAgency = IANTD
DateOfCaveDivingTraining = 11/30/05
YearsExperienceCaveDiving = 2 yrs 2 mos
TotalNumberOfCaveDives =
NumberOfCaveDivesInLastYear =
NumberOfDivesAtThisLocation =
DatesOfDivesAtThisLocation =
MaximumDepthAtLocation = 110
DivePartnersName = (solo)
a_DivePartnersExperience =
a_OriginalDivePlan = Scooter to Scraper on rebreather to or through restriction
on gold line.  Drop rebreather, continue on open circuit sidemount with the purpose
of survey.
MaximumKnownDepth = 110 feet
WaterTemp = 72 F
DepthBodyFound = 108 feet
DistanceToNearestExit = 3850 feet
DescriptionOfSiltInArea = heavy clay floor
NormalVizDistance = 200 feet
VizDuringRecovery = clear at start
a_WeatherConditionsAtTimeOfAccident = cool and overcast
a_EntryConditionsAtSite = good
WetOrDrySuit = Dry, DUI CNSE hypercompressed 1.5mil
FullOrShorty =
ConditionOfSuit = shows wear but overall good
Hood = shows wear but good
Gloves =
Booties =
WeightBelt =
PoundsKilosOfWeight =
BuoyancyCompensator = Nomad
BCType = Nomad
DegreeOfBCInflation = negative
Mask = Tusa
LocationOfMask = On face
ContentsOfMask = blood froth
Fins = Dive Rite
TypeOfFins = spring strap
TapedFins = spring strap
Snorkel = no
Knife = z-knife
LocationOfKnife = on computer, on wrist
NumberOfTanks = bailout. diluent. 19cf. 02.
SizeOfTanks = bailout:AL80.  diluent:Steel 100HP
TankMaterial =
TankPosition = attached to body, properly plumbed; stage bottles placed 3840', 3200', 1800'
FillPressureAtStartOfDive =
PressureAtRecovery = HP empty
TankValveConfiguration =
PositionOfIsolationValve = n/a
NumberOfRegulators =
BrandOfRegulators =
Octopus =
LongHose =
RegsFunctionalAtScene = could not check
GeneralConditionOfRegulators = both 2nd stages deployed, and were packed in mud
StatusOfValveOpening =
PressureGauge = Button on O2; salvo compact spg diluent
PSIReadingOnGauge = diluent 0; O2 0
NumberOfLights = 3
TypeOfLights = OMS backup-up. OMS. Salvo 2lwatt l5.6amp lithium battery with an estimated burn time of 7 hours

LightsOperational = yes to all
LocationOfLights = right pocket. left pocket. butt mounted.
NumberOfReels = 1
TypeOfReels = homemade 800' knotted line reel, line deployed
ReelsDeployed =
LocationOfReels =
DistanceFromGuideline = laying on it
GuidelineCondition = good
DepthGaugeType = HE and bottom timer
VictimsDepthGaugeReading = 108 feet
Slate =
Tables = none
NumberOfComputers = 1
TypeOfComputers = DiveRite Nitek HE
a_ComputerData =
a_AddtionalDescriptionOfEquipment = Megladon rebreather; appeared to be properly
configured except steel 19cf had onboard O2, steel HP100 sidemount/diluent 32%
EquipmentLoaned = some owned, some loaned
LoanedFromWho = HP100, Cory or Dave (?); scooter, unknown
OverallConditionOfEquipment = good
a_BodyState = face up, pointing out, arms at sides, eyes closed,
crossing chest hands partially closed, nothing under nails, clay only on fins; riggor set in.

ReportPreparedBy = Rose Meadows
RecoveryTeamMembers = Lamar Hires, Jerry Murphy, Joel Clark, Jeff Handcock
Rich Courtney, Mark Meadow, Ted McCoy, Corey Mearns, Eric Risman, Beth Murphy,
Jerrod Hires
OfficerInCharge = Investigator Patrick Cordasco, Gilcrist County Sheriff's Office

Summary of incident:

Victim planned to ride scooter to a room called the Scraper while diving rebreather to or through restriction at gold line.  Was to drop rebreather and go on sidemount HP100, same bottle he was using as diluent with 32% nitrox mix, survey passage around and past 4000', come back to rebreather, get back on the unit and proceed out.  The body was facing out on his back.  Victim was not on the loop and loop was closed and did not appear to be flooded.  Body was about 10' from first stage AL80 at 3840'.  Other staged AL80 were placd at 3200', 1800' and at the sign.  AL80 for deco.

Due to the complex nature of this dive and recovery, we got a fresh start on the recovery at 9am, wrapped up around 5pm.

Note:  Following is a typed description of the recovery, by Rose Meadows.  It was received by the IUCRR as a PDF file, and the contents were OCR'd to text.  Efforts were made to correct any OCR-induced errors.

At 11:28am on March 10, 2008, Victim entered the water at the Devils system. Prior to that he had shared his dive plan with Konstantin Kovalenko. According to his statement Victim was going to dive his rebreather to the restriction where supposedly Marius’ line begins. He would then remove the rebreather and continue the dive past the restriction using side mounted configuration. He was going to replace Marius’ line with his own knotted line. On the way back he was going to survey the line/cave. He had three stage cylinders placed in the cave along the route that had been added on previous dives.

Corey Mearns got concerned the Victim had not arrived back from the dive in the allotted time frame so he came to check on him. Seeing that he had not surfaced Corey prepared to enter the cave to locate him. Eric Risman, staff of Ginnie Springs, was on site with GCSO Deputy David Reeves to talk with Victim when he got out concerning poor visibility in the cave believed to be due to what ever he was doing in there.

Corey entered the water 21:08 located Victim approximately 30 minutes later. He found the diver lifeless at 3805-feet back and on the line not with any breathing source in his mouth and on his back. Corey exited cave shortly after 22:39 and informed us of what he had found. He made no attempt to remove the body or equipment. He did remove the divers DPV which was located several hundred feet down stream of the body.

During Corey’s dive Eric had called me at home at approximately 21:00 to inform me of what was going on. Approximately 21:20 I called Ken Hill of the IUCRR to give him a heads up what we may have but it had not yet been confirmed. 15 minutes later I received a call from Lamar Hires of the IUCRR touching base after Ken had contacted him. At that time Lamar had sent Jerry Murphy to the site to assess the situation. While on the phone Lamar had requested to start the recovery, if one was needed, the next morning due to the complexity of the dive. I agreed. I arrived at the site shortly before Corey surfaced there I met up with Eric, Mark Wray and Jerry for details. Corey surfaced and coafirmed we would be conducting a recovery. Three GCS Officers and one ambulance were on scene when I arrived. We agreed to start up at 9:00am for the recovery. Site was secured for the night by GCS Deputy David Reeves.

I arrived at the store 8:00am, informed staff that we would be doing a recovery today and Devils Cave Site would remain closed until the task was completed. No one was to come down to that site until further notice. No one was to give out any information on the incident.

9:00am recovery team convened at the site to begin. Team #1 entered the water at 10:24am. They planned to drop the scooters at 3310’ then swim on to 3850’ where the body was located. Body was located at 3850’ back into the system, line under him at approximately 11:15am. Video was taken by Joel upon arrival. It was planned that Joel would exit as soon as video was complete due to his gear configuration. Joel surfaced at 11:59am.

Lamar decided it was necessary to remove the divers equipment for extraction. The body was found with the rebreather on the diver and the loop floating in front of his face with the DSV closed and loop did not appear to be flooded. One side mounted HP100s were attached to him with the second stages thrown off to the side the other one not attached. The unit was set up with two l9cf cylinders filled with oxygen and the side mounted HP100s were being used as diluent. Body facing upward, pointing down stream eyes closed, mask on. It was confirmed that one 19cf 02 bottle (located on the right side) was gauge read empty. This bottle was plumbed into the system to be used as a computer set point controlled. No hand set on either arm. It was normal for the diver to only wear one hand set and leave the other one behind him. The hand set which contained the HUD was the one behind him when found. The rebreather was secured to the diver with all four points the way that he normally wore it. The unit was attached to a Nomad side mount system. By all appearance the diver was on open circuit. Once this was confirmed they proceeded accordingly. Fins were both on. All gear except the fins were removed after evaluation was completed.

Team #2 entered the water at 12:04 and exited with the body at 12:28. Body was then placed on deck for pictures and evaluation. Two black straps and a tow rope used for removal were on the body. The body had a mix of blood and foam coming from both his nose and mouth. Fingers were white and clawed. Finger nails clean.

Victim was wearing:

Black DUI CNSE Hyper compressed 1.5mm dry suit. Boots with the laces wrapped around the top of the boot. Pee Valve open. There was clear sign use on the suit.
Dive Rite black fins with spring straps with clay on them.
Tusk Mask with cloth mask strap, blood and foam in it.
Black hood and Regular necklace around the neck
Black ever flex gloves fingers removed
Nitex HE computer with Z-knife on the strap

Left pocket contents:(found closed)

OMS back up light clipped in working condition
Wet notes containing survey data. Two pencils
Four yellow line arrows labeled 4100-4200-4300-4400
Signal mirror
Survey compass

Right pocket contents: (found open)

OMS back up light clipped in working condition

Team #3 entered the water at 13:24 and exited at 17:00. Everything was removed at this time.

Tank Evaluation

Located at 3850 Al 80- 1st stage Salvo SR2 2nd stage Salvo SRS labeled as 32% MOD 33m All hoses tucked and included inflator hose. Pressure 3000psi
Confirmed gas 30.9% Jerry and 30.7% Joel

Located at 1800’ (Stage bottle rock) Al 80 lst stage Apex DXT 2st stage Apex TX50 labeled as 32% MOD 33m. All hoses tucked and inflator hose. Pressure 220 bar
Confirmed gas 30.7% Jerry and 31.1% Joel

Location 3450’ back of the Berman Room. Al 80- lst Salvo SR2 - 2nd  stage Salvo SRS. Labeled as 32% MOD 33m. All hoses tucked including inflator hose. Pressure 3000psi
Confirmed gas 31.06% Jerry and 31.9% Joel

Located at the sign Al 40 1st  stage Salvo SR1 -  2nd stage Salvo SRS All hoses tucked no gauge. Labeled oxygen. Bottle was confirmed empty. Could not confirm gas. Mask pouch attached containing wet notes and computer generated deco schedule. Oceanic H20 Audio.

Two HP100 steel cylinders that were used as his side mount/diluents were both completely drained and the tank valves were loose enough to remove by hand. Could not vary gas.

Megladon Rebreather

Rebreather was mounted to a Nomad side mount rig that looked in good condition. It had his primary light butt mounted to it with a pouch containing spare mask. The light was a Salvo 2lwatt l5.6amp lithium battery with an estimated burn time of 7 hours.

2-l9cf cylinders were mounted with the unit both labeled as oxygen.
Right cylinder read 0 pressure and was connected to the unit to run
automatically when the solenoid fired. Solenoid was set at a set point of .7
Left cylinder was rigged to run manually and had a reading of 200bar.
Sensor readings at this time were .14-. 17-.87 All mounted to an old Dive
Rite Al back plate. DSV was closed

Canister was opened at the scene. Found water and foam covering the entire scrubber. There were clear signs of corrosion in the canister as well as on the electronics. Solenoid was still attempting to fire.

Reels found:

Two Halcyon safety spools with approximately 100’-150of line.
One home made explorer reel empty. It was confirmed the it did contain 800’ of knotted braided nylon line when he started the dive.

All information contained in this report is correct and accurate based on noted I took at the scene.

Rose Meadows
GSO Manager


Note:  Following the incident summary were a few pages of notes, which are typical of a Surface Operations Manager during a recovery.  Many of the handwritten notes weren't readable (to me), but of the ones that were, I've transcribed them below, allowing that they may be relevant to understanding the incident.

Viz was 50-60' out, 30-40' in.  Crystal clear at Berman Room, 3300', high flow.

No indication of a struggle.

Nomad looked good, properly configured.  Spare mask; light butt mounted, would not strike mask in pouch.


2 O2 tanks; right=0; left=200bar.  DSV closed. Set point .7 (.14  .17  .87  sensor reading at scene)

Old DiveRight AL back plate.

2nd handset which contains HUD was behind diver.  Primary not on him either.

Canister was opened at the scene, found water and foam covering canister.  Corrosion had begun in side canister caused from caustic (?) unable to suck in with this amount of water; could have been caused by continuing of firing of solenoid or duration of bottom time rebreather sensor would have failed.  Both HP100 completely dry with both DiveRit valves loose and removeable.

Body was wedged not tangled.

No handset on either arm; normal stashed behind him.

Victim was not on loop, was on open circuit.  1 HP100 was attached, the other HP100 was not; both were empty, both regs were deployed.

No way to remove diver with breather.

Once confirmed on OC proceeded accordingly.

Bail out HP100 empty.

DSV closed, loop not flooded.

Definitely on OC.

Meg attached to nomad side mount rig.  In place on diver all 4 points were clipped.

Right O2 read empty.

Very foamy w/ blood out of nose and mouth.  Eyes closed.  Finger white and clawed, fingernails clean.


Note:  Additional comments by Lamar Hires can be found here.


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