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Trip Start Mar 17, 2007
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yesterday was very sad. It might be difficult to explain to a non diver but diving is something you do together. You are a team. Sure, most of the time, you just met. Sometimes you do not even know the name of the person. Still, you are together in this. A serious diver will do ANYTHING within the safety limits (and also beyond) to help a buddy. We are all responsible for each other.

And, then, a young woman lies dead at your feet. Drowned. At less than 30 meters. I thought a young, healthy person could take minutes of non-breathing. I expected it to be like in the movies: she would cough, sigh and say: 'where am I?' But, she does not. Days later, she is still breathing but in a coma, with no brain activity measured. She can survive but living how? Never the Erin she was. Severe brain damage at the best. A plant at the worse. When our nice police detective calls us days later, Dr T says: 'that is good news: she is still alive.' I am sure the parents agree. I am not sure I do. Do you pray to God, talk to Buddha or go down on your knees for Allah? Will you send a thought to Erin?

When we came back to the shore, after the accident, the ambulance took over and the police was waiting for us. Erin's dive master was in shock, of course. We think she did a great job on deck: she got her heart to beat again. We did not see what happened under water. The people who DID see it, did not see the same. The facts: Erin was doing her first deep water dive. The others stayed at 18 meter (maximum depth for an Open Water) and she went deeper with her dive master. At a point in time, Erin freaked out. Why, nobody knows. She started finning up and took her regulator (= air supply!) out. Her dive master put it back in, try to calm her down and took her up, when that did not work. Plain panic? Nitrogen narcosis? Look what Wiki says about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_narcosis

Something else?

A German tourist helped with the CPR. She did a great job too. A volunteer for the ambulance at home. The 3rd girl, we do not really know who she was but she was connected to the dive shop. She was not introduced to us and just vaguely answered when asked. A dive master in training?

It took 2 more hours before we left the dive shop and were invited at the police station in the afternoon.

This was NOT a moment to be cheap for the dive shop, I think. But they were. They told the upset people they could have a free dive if they came back. Come back? There were 4 Germans there! What was the chance they would come back to the Yongala? And that the same people would be still in charge and indeed give them a free dive? I let Hubby handle this and he got half of our money back. Correction: the promise of a refund. Emotionally: they should not have discussed this: full refund! Practically, business like? Full refund! They want those confused people to walk away with a good feeling about them. It is not fair but it is human to have a better feeling if the shop was nice to you. And their reputation is at state!

Almost 5 years ago, a girl on honeymoon died on the Yongala too. A month ago, her husband was charged with murder. Not the fault of the dive shop, nor of the dive site but with this accident on top: no good!

One of the articles on the net about the maybe murder:

http://pysih.com/2008/06/21/daniel-gabriel-watson/

Want to read the police report? It is almost a book. Even if it was not a planned murder, even if he did not intend to kill her: in my humble opinion toss this guy in jail forever!

http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2008/01/23/10038_hpnews.html

So: we went to the police station in the afternoon and spent many hours there. I thought I would say that I did not see the accident and maybe that the crew did all they could afterwards but there was much more. 90% irrelevant information (profession, what time arrival at the dive shop, how old do you think the girl was and many more) and it is all pretty technical for a non-diver (decompression, briefing, dive plan, signing, ...). My first interviewer was also not the ... sharpest knife in the drawer. Asked whether I could read English and I did not tell him I could spell better than him ... .

I am upset and so is Dr T, although he pretends to be Grote Haas. I guess all of us spend a couple of hours awake at night. Could we have done more? How did this happen? What can we do to prevent this in the future?

And the Yongala? Well, we only dove it for 32 minutes but did the whole length of 109 meters. It is the nr 1 on our list. And ... we did not like it! For us: it should not even BE in the top 100. The ship sunk in 1911 and is overgrown with coral, which makes it almost unrecognizable. You cannot penetrate it. The visibility is bad, so you cannot look into the ship. The only interesting thing we saw was huge sting rays, twice our size? It is NOT a difficult dive. For beginners, they can stay on the top of the wreck max 18 meters. Advanced can go to the sea bottom: 27 meters. There is a bit of current but nothing like the north Great Barrier Reef. Even if I would be in Ayr, I would not do it anymore.

It was Dad's birthday but we did not get hold of him.

T's little brother calls and we find out he is in Paris, the first 3 weeks of August: can be fun!

We leave the next morning, we booked a hotel in Cairns.

The sun came back and it is a pleasant 7 hour drive, including a pie and 1 beer.

They DO have free wireless in the hotel but not in the room. On the terrace next to the swimming pool it works. Which is not so bad: it is also a cocktail bar and restaurant.

Tomorrow, we will plan the near and not-so-near future.
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