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  1. #1
    Special Forum Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Southport (Panama City), FL

    Default Cave Diving Death?

    Ok, he was diving (free diving) and there is a cave ... but ...


    Blue Spring diver dies
    Staff Writers

    ORANGE CITY -- A diver at Blue Spring State Park was found floating unconscious in the water Saturday morning but could not be revived and was pronounced dead at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial, officials said.
    This is the first cave-diving fatality at Blue Spring since 1994, according to statistics from the National Speleological Society, which began tracking the numbers that year.
    Robert A. Jones, 38, of Zephyrhills had been solo "free diving" -- with a wetsuit but no tank -- when other divers discovered him at 10:22 a.m. floating face down under about 10 feet of water near the spring's boil.
    Jones was not breathing and had no pulse, and might have been there up to 10 minutes, according to an EVAC ambulance spokesman and a Volusia County Sheriff's Office news release.
    Rescuers from EVAC and the Orange City Fire Department had to enter the water to get Jones out. Park rangers and other divers assisted, EVAC spokesman Mark O'Keefe said.
    "This was a rather complex, advanced life support rescue because the diver was in the area of the boil," O'Keefe said.
    Jones, found to be in cardiac arrest, had to be hoisted onto a backboard, moved onto a rubber raft and floated downstream while responders worked to revive him, O'Keefe said.
    "Truly an unusual call for this EVAC crew," O'Keefe said, adding that the crew had to get out of their wet clothes at the hospital.
    The patient never regained consciousness, O'Keefe said. He was pronounced dead at 11:33, officials said.
    An autopsy will be performed Monday, authorities said, but investigators don't suspect any foul play.
    Cave diving deaths in Florida accounted for 42 of the 69 total recorded since 1994. The last 11 deaths have all occurred in Florida between 2006 and 2009 to the present date.
    Though this was the first diving fatality at Blue Spring, there have been other close calls in which free divers -- who breathe deeply on the surface of the water to slow the heart rate and then use slow kicks to exert less energy while swimming downward -- nearly drowned there.
    Like many free divers, a DeBary teenager sought out an underwater air pocket in 2006. The goal was to catch a breath so he could stay down longer, but it nearly killed him.
    Instead of oxygen, what the teen took in was carbon dioxide. He suffered a seizure on his way to the surface, but was revived with CPR.
    At least two other incidents occurred in which free divers nearly drowned in the Blue Spring cave in 2002.
    Avid scuba divers say there is no safe air under water.
    Cave Diving Fatalities 1994-2009 (to date)
    The National Speleological Society tracks cave-diving accidents in the Americas. Its records are admittedly incomplete, so these numbers represent the minimum number of cave divers who have died. Sixty-nine deaths have been reported since 1994, of which 42 occurred in Florida. The last 10 fatalities, all since 2005, occurred in Florida.
    Florida 42*
    Mexico 9
    Bahamas 4
    Cuba 4
    Brazil 2
    California 2
    Hawaii 2
    Alabama 1
    Belize 1
    Missouri 1
    New York 1
    *-- Includes Saturday's death, which was the first in a Blue Spring cave.
    SOURCE: American Caving Accidents

    I Semper Fi, Cameron David Smith, my son, my hero. 11/9/1989 - 11/13/2010

    Never forget, we were all beginners once. Allain Burrese

  2. #2


    I agree with the question mark. Will the NSS/CDS really count this?

    While it doesn't help the family at all, I just don't know that it should be classified as a "cave diving death".


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    High Springs, Florida


    While tragic, the use of freediving techniques does not make a person swimming into the cave into a cave diver. The warning signs on the surface should be adequate to keep folks from thinking before they undertake acts of questionable safety.


    "does your wife know you dive like that?" - quote from Jeff Hancock on seeing me gearing up to dive back mount.

  4. #4
    Social Co-Director
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Cocoa Beach


    Quote Originally Posted by mfascuba View Post
    The warning signs on the surface should be adequate to keep folks from thinking before they undertake acts of questionable safety.


    I'm sure this was a typo, but I think it may really be the point. People sometimes spend a lot of energy bypassing obvious signs warning them not to do what they eventually manage to do. Sometimes they get away with it, sometimes they don't.

    Makes you wonder about Abe Davis. Was he really a great predecessor for cave divers, showing us the way, and having a safety award named after him, or was he just a luckier version of this poor soul ?

    Bob K

  5. #5


    A number of free divers use this system for practice.

    "Is this thing on?"

  6. #6


    I was there last summer diving with my cousin and we were down around 90 feet and was surprised to see an older gentleman swimming down beneath us free-diving with only a wet suit, fins and mask.
    He shot us a look and it seemed like he was trying to get deeper than we were with our tanks on.
    He seemed to be doing just fine but we were surprised to see him down there.

  7. #7

    Default At Daytona

    So if a man attends the Daytona 500, he's parked on race track property and goes to his privately owned car and dies of a heart attack, will it listed as a NASCAR fatality, since it was on the grounds of the race course during a race? I think this free diver death is wrongly attributed as a cave dive.

    'You can say what you want about the South, but I ain't never heard of anyone wanting to retire to the North'

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Murfreesboro, Tennessee

    Default it was a cave dive

    if you die while attempting a cave dive, it's a cave dive fatality. doesn't matter what gear you wore or didn't wear, or what training you had or didn't have. If you die of a heart attack in your car in the parking lot after a cave dive, it's not a cave dive fatality.


    "Learning the techniques of others does not interfere with the discovery of techniques of one's own." B.F. Skinner, 1970.

  9. #9


    If a caver/sump diver is pushing a short sump breath holding ( a technique coming out of vogue I hope) and drowns- Is it a cave diving accident or a caving accident>?

  10. #10


    if a diver dies in his car in a cave under a race track and no one is around to hear him die. Does he make a noise?

    Brendan's Law - "Know what you're breathing. Analyze your gas for O2 and Co. Analyze your gas each time, everytime, anywhere."


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