Scuba dive company to pay $70,000 after tourist dies at Cathedral Cove

A Taiwanese tourist died while scuba diving at Hahei. Photo / File
A Taiwanese tourist died while scuba diving at Hahei. Photo / File

A scuba diving company has been ordered to pay $70,000 in reparations for failing to keep a Taiwanese tourist safe after she died while on a dive in the Coromandel.

Cathedral Cove Dive and its director Russell Cochrane had earlier pleaded guilty to three charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. The sentencing decision was released by Judge Menzies at the Hamilton District Court today.

WorkSafe chief inspector Keith Stewart said the victim's death was entirely preventable and put the blame firmly on the company.

The dive company failed to provide adequate supervision and fitted her with a buoyancy compensator device (BCD) which was too large for her and made it difficult for her to lift her head out of the water to breathe.

The woman was on a recreational scuba dive in Hahei in November 2014 when she swam out of the enclosed bay where the dive was taking place. She was found hours later floating face down in the water after her air supply had run out.

"The ill-fitted equipment compromised the victim's ability to try and breathe when her air supply ran out and the lack of supervision meant she was able to become separated from the dive supervisor and leave the sheltered bay. It also meant that she could not immediately notify someone of her distress nor be provided with assistance," Stewart said.

He said water-related activities like scuba diving always came with a risk of drowning and the professional scuba diving company should have managed the risk especially when running courses for people who had no scuba diving experience.

"Sadly a woman has lost her life and a family have lost a mother because of failures by the company and its director to meet their legal obligations."

- NZ Herald

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