In 2018, Technical diving instructor, Lance Palmer was conducting a rebreather user course at Stoney Cover in Leicester with Roger Clark, 55 when the incident occurred.
Mr Palmer had serviced Clark’s rebreather prior to the dive, but an inquest later found that this was carried out with “significant failings”.
Over the course of training, the divers descended into “The Sump” which reaches a maximum depth of 35m, although course standards dictate a maximum depth of 30m. Whilst in the sump, Clark’s rebreather issued a number of alarms which would mean the diver would need to “bailout” and use standard open circuit equipment. Unfortunately during this process Mr Clark became unconscious and despite attempts by Palmer and his safety diver to assist getting Mr Clark to the surface, all 3 divers remained at 35m for 3 minutes. By the time the 3 man team had returned to the surface, Mr Clark had drowned.
The HSE investigation ruled that Palmer was responsible for not adequately maintaining and checking his student’s breathing apparatus; failing to remain in close enough proximity to monitor his student, contravening TDI rules for exceeding maximum diving depths on repeat dives, and failing to have an adequately qualified rescue diver in the water with him and the student.
Ivan Cartwright, coroner for Leicester City and South Leicestershire, found that errors and omissions by the instructor and safety diver ‘significantly increased the risks associated with the dive and may have caused, or contributed, to Mr Clarke’s death.’ Lance Palmer was ordered to undertake 50 hours unpaid work and costs of £3,085.