If I’d know about scuba divers Donna Newton and Eloise Gale, I might not have been so eager to book a liveaboard dive trip to the Galapagos.
Unlike Donna and Eloise, I made it home alive from my Galapagos dive trip. But, I can identify with the circumstances that seemingly were factors in their deaths.
I’ll leave my own experience for a future post where I can explore what happened in detail. Suffice to say, for now, my experience triggered extensive research into the dangers of diving – especially Galapagos diving, liveaboard diving and deaths associated with ‘bad buddies’. Buddies are a pair/trio of divers who agree to stick together at depth and keep an eye on each other. NOT leave or abandon each other.
My research was eye opening and frightening. Now, bear in mind, few diving deaths ever make the news. Especially when they occur in countries where English isn’t the main language or the deceased isn’t from an English speaking country. The diving industry certainly isn’t going to publicizing this kind of news – it’s bad for business.
First, 40 year old Donna Newton of Britain. She drowned in the Galapagos in October 2009. According to the coroner, factors in her death included her dive buddy leaving her alone at depth and her divemaster failing to watch over the divers he was guiding.
Next, 23 year old Eloise Gale of Texas. She drowned a few months later, in February 2010. Like Newton, she was a passenger on a Galapagos liveaboard and, according to a report, it appears her dive buddy left or lost track of her underwater.
Finally, I’m also aware of the death of a Chinese national on a Galapagos liveaboard in November 2015. I learned of it from a trusted friend whose friend was an eyewitness. The diver was a mother of two, who’d travelled to Ecuador with her scuba club. The diver was partnered with a buddy who apparently abandoned her underwater. Her body wasn’t recovered.
Three dead women left alone by their ‘buddies’ to fend for themselves. That’s NOT supposed to happen.
The Galapagos are known for strong currents. This isn’t diving for the faint of heart or the inexperienced. I knew what I was getting into. I have 400+ dives, experience in strong currents and cold, green water. I travelled to the Galapagos expecting the dive crew on my vessel to follow safe diving practices.
They failed miserably, in my opinion.
Last thing. Regarding the liveaboard yacht I travelled on in December 2016 – two of the three dead women whose stories I’ve described were on the same vessel as me.
To be continued…