Another scuba diver has died while recovering lost golfballs from a Florida lake, apparently weighed down by his haul. The incident occurred only days after the US government had fined a Florida business on 12 counts of neglect in connection with the death of a golfball-recovery diver last December, as reported on Divernet.
The more recent dive appears to have been carried out on an amateur basis. The victim, identified by Fox News as emergency medical responder Nick Wardein, 44, died on the afternoon of Friday, 22 July.
The incident occurred at one of 16 lakes around the Arrowhead public golf course in Naples, in the south-west of the state. It was attended by Collier County Sheriff's Office, which has been conducting an investigation.
Wardein was reported to have obtained permission to dive into the lake to retrieve lost golfballs, something he had done before, while his 14-year-old son Xavier remained on the bank.
Wardein had taken along a net bag to hold any golfballs he found, and this had been attached to his weightbelt, according to the police report.
It was not clear how long Wardein had been submerged or how many balls he had collected, but his son later told detectives that he had seen his father trying to surface with his haul and appearing to struggle to maintain his buoyancy.
He had seen his father remove his BC and cylinder but said he had remained unable to surface, possibly because of the weight of the bag.
Xavier had entered the water in a bid to help but had been unable to find his father. He had then left the lake to call for help.
When the emergency services arrived they found Wardein’s BC and cylinder floating about 30m out from the edge of the lake. Fire-department divers had entered the water but were at first unable to find the missing diver, and it was only when further divers arrived that the man’s body was found.
Wardein had worked for Lee County Public Safety for the past eight years and was described by his employer as “a committed provider who was loved and respected by his co-workers”. He left a wife, Ruth, and three children.