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Cave-diver might have died from O2 toxicity

Cave-diver
Roaring River Spring (Jeff Weese)
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Further information has emerged about the recent death of US cave-diver Eric Hahn in Roaring River Spring near Cassville, Missouri, in an incident reported on Divernet on 15 October.

The KISS Rebreathers dive-team had gathered on 14 October to prepare for what they hoped would be a record-breaking descent into the cave the following day.

The team had started exploring the site, long described as “bottomless”, in May 2021, and by November had set a national cave depth record of 144m there. Local paper the Cassville Democrat, which had been tracking the team’s progress, provided the additional information.

Diving began at around 11.30am and the incident occurred just before noon at a depth of about 58m, according to Cpl Sam Carpenter of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which attended the scene. Fellow-divers brought out Hahn’s body at around 4.20pm, when he was declared dead by local coroner Gary Swearingen.

Hahn, a 27-year-old software engineer from Blacksburg, Virginia, was an experienced cave-diver who had participated in most of the team’s monthly dives at Roaring River Spring during the year.

KISS Rebreathers CEO and head diver Mike Young told press that the preliminary highway patrol investigation indicated that Hahn’s personal air tank had contained an “inappropriate amount of oxygen”, which could lead to the type of seizure he was suspected of having experienced in the water. He was said to have suffered from what appeared to be the effects of oxygen toxicity. 

The following day the dive-team retrieved the 18 stage tanks they had already placed in the spring as well as a number of underwater habitats, with Young stating that no more dives would be carried out at the site this year and the future of diving there uncertain for now. The investigation is ongoing.

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