CCR diver dies in shallows in Cyprus

Martin Dash
Martin Dash

A British rebreather diver has died on a shore-dive in less than 2m of water after watching his two children training in Green Bay near Larnaca, Cyprus.

Experienced technical diver Martin Dash, 46, from Liverpool, was on a family holiday with Alex Woolerton, his partner of 22 years, and their two children.

Kitted up with his rebreather he entered the water some time after mid-day on 13 July to photograph his 16-year-old daughter, an Open-Water Diver, and 11-year-old son, who were undergoing dive-training in shallow water with two instructors. His daughter later said that she had exchanged OK signs with her father before seeing him swim away.

Some eight minutes after Dash had submerged, Woolerton was swimming when she saw a diver being pulled from the water and start to be given CPR on the beach. As a large number of divers were training in the bay, she did not realise at first that it was Dash.

Despite 40 minutes of attempted resuscitation, Dash failed to regain consciousness. He was taken by ambulance to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Two post mortems took place before Woolerton was allowed to fly his body home on 27 July, but back in Liverpool the Coroner ordered a further post mortem for 1 August.

Cause of death had been declared by the Cyprus authorities to be asphyxiation by drowning, although there was reportedly no water in Dash’s lungs.

The diver was using a new closed-circuit rebreather that he had bought just before his departure. An ISC Pathfinder, it replaced an ISC Megalodon that he had used for the past nine years on deep dives, diver friend Stephen Bennett-Squires told Divernet, describing Dash as “very efficient and skilled, having a ticket to 100m but passing that when the dives required”.

In the days leading up to the fatal incident Dash had carried out six dives down to around the 40m mark on the Zenobia ferry wreck, said Woolerton, diving through the Dive-In Larnaca centre. There had been no reported problems, although she told Divernet that he had complained to her about charging issues with the unit. “Martin was always so careful and particular about everything,” she said. Cyprus Police have retained the rebreather pending investigation. 

Woolerton told Divernet that her partner’s dive-computer had not registered a dive, and that she had been told that his mouthpiece was still in place when he was recovered from the water.


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