The two American scuba divers killed by a dive-boat off Isla Mujeres in Mexico on 4 March have been identified as long-serving University of Washington staff-members.
Originally reported by Mexican police to be marine biologists, they were in fact Evan Abramson, a research professor in Earth & Space Sciences who had joined the university in 1988, and Tom Schaefer who, after gaining his master’s degree in oceanography there, had worked in its School of Social Work for more than 25 years.
Since 1985 he had also volunteered as an educator with the Seattle Aquarium & Pacific Marine Research.
“Both Evan and Tom contributed immeasurably to our university community during their time at the UW, and that community should now come together to extend our condolences to their families and friends,” said the university president in a statement. “We hope that their loved ones will find peace in memories of happier times.”
The men, said to have been experienced scuba divers, had been wreck-diving in a group of four with a divemaster, as previously reported on Divernet.
According to witnesses they had sent up an SMB before ascending to return to their boat, when the surviving divers stated that a larger dive-boat called Mr Tom, run by Cancun’s oldest dive operator, the PADI 5* centre Scuba Cancun, had arrived as they surfaced.
Its captain was said to have ignored the buoy as well as shouted warnings from the divemaster, its propellers striking both men as the boat positioned itself to drop off its own divers.
Mr Tom was impounded by the Isla Mujeres police and the captain taken into custody. State attorney-general’s office the FGE was reported to be investigating the double fatality.
Steve has been a scuba diver for 30 years and became editor of Diver magazine in 1996, following 10 years with BBC World Service and the 10 before that in motoring journalism.