A scuba diver who died off Lulworth Cove in Dorset in the summer of 2021 chose to enter the sea in unsafe “choppy” conditions despite his experience, an inquest has heard.
The search and subsequent discovery of the missing diver were reported on Divernet at the time. Carvalho Ildelindo da Silveira, 59, had been diving with a less-experienced diver on Saturday, 7 August but intentionally separated from him at the surface before going missing.
His body was found in the cove three days later by divers from Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police’s marine section. Assistant coroner Richard Middleton conducted the inquest at Bournemouth Coroner’s Court on 21 December, as reported by Dorset Live.
Silveira had been a mathematics teacher at Brockwood Park School at Bramdean in Hampshire, where he had lived and worked for more than 20 years. He had gone to dive with former colleague Julien Mardelet, accompanied by current colleague and non-diver Raymond Cheung, who gave evidence at the inquest.
The plan had been to dive at Portland the day after the men’s arrival there, but Cheung said that this had been ruled out because of the weather and choppy sea conditions, a decision supported by staff at the dive-centre where they had obtained air-fills. After Chesil Beach proved no better, it had been decided to try diving at more sheltered Lulworth Cove.
Cheung said that on arrival there Silveira had seemed a “little agitated” at the change of plans but appeared to be in good spirits as the dive began. However, Mardelet had resurfaced at 5pm after about 30 minutes and left the water.
Mardelet told the inquest that Silveira was more experienced, having dived as deep as 45m, whereas he had never been past 16m and it had been his first dive of the year. His buddy had wanted to head out of the cove into “clearer and deeper water” but Mardelet had told him he intended to stay close to shore.
The last time he had seen Silveira they had surfaced together after Mardelet had signalled his intention to head back. Silveira had shrugged and carried on out of the cove.
Mardelet and Cheung began to get concerned only at around 6.45pm, and it was not until around 8pm that the latter had called 999 to inform the Coastguard.
The coroner said that although aware of the prevailing conditions, Silveira “had chosen not to take every step one could take to ensure the safest dive possible… When someone pursues a course of conduct with known risk and the individual knows that risk and pursues it voluntarily, that leads me to a conclusion of misadventure.” He recorded the cause of death as drowning.