Family of the 27-year-old diver, Timothy Chu, held a press conference this week, reported in the Vancouver Sun. They claimed that Chu had been too inexperienced to be taken for a boat-dive at the Race Rocks marine protected area near Victoria, an area known for its strong currents, and had not been properly monitored during the dive.
The diver’s uncle Bill Chu said that after reviewing the BC Coroners Service report, released in November, the family felt that a full enquiry into British Columbia's leisure-diving industry was now warranted.
He said that two other diving accidents had happened in the area just before the death of his nephew, and that the divers concerned had been lucky to be rescued.
Hong Kong-born Timothy Chu, who was on holiday, booked the dive through Ogden Point Dive Centre of Victoria, but Bill Chu said that although his nephew had qualified as an Advanced Open Water Diver five years before his death he had done only 14 dives. Taking him to such a site he described as like “playing Russian roulette”.
Chu was buddied by a divemaster, but on the ascent became entangled in kelp and had to fight to free himself in the heavy current, a situation that “overwhelmed his experience and training”, according to the coroner.
He was said to have run out of air but, separated from the divemaster, was dragged down by the combination of kelp and current. His body was found seven weeks later.
In her report, coroner Courtney Cote said that “recreational scuba-diving is an inherently risky sport,” although she also noted that of 37 diving deaths in British Columbia in the past 10 years, none had occurred at Race Rocks.
Tom Beasley said that the Underwater Council of British Columbia of which he was a director wished to participate should there be a review of the industry, because it wanted the sport to be safer. Chu’s family have been told that they can apply to the chief coroner to reopen the investigation into the fatality.
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