‘Bends’ kills diver off Durban

2013-09-26 00:00

THE distraught family of a 44-year-old diver who died yesterday after a scuba diving session went horribly wrong, had to receive trauma counselling after being informed of the incident.

The Australian-born woman had been living in Durban for some time. She lost her pulse and breath as a result of dive decompression sickness, said National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Durban station commander Clifford Ireland.

This condition (commonly known as “the bends”) is caused when nitrogen bubbles form in the bloodstream and tissues of the body if you move from deep water towards the surface (where the surrounding pressure is lower) in too short a space of time.

Symptoms occur soon after the dive has finished and, in the most serious cases, it can lead to unconsciousness or death.

Ireland said the incident was reported to their Durban crew at about 11.26 am by a Dive Charter boat informing that they were rushing back to the NSRI Durban Sea Rescue Base with the diver on board.

At this stage they were administering CPR on the woman.

On arrival at the sea rescue base, Netcare 911 paramedics took over, but despite extensive efforts to resuscitate the woman, she was declared dead by paramedics, said Ireland in a statement.

He said the woman, who is believed to be an experienced diver with a full technical tri-mix dive qualification, had, according to reports, been diving at depth at a submarine wreck 10 km off-shore of Durban.

It was reported that she surfaced at speed and this is believed to have caused decompression.

“Reports suggest that she was conscious on surfacing from the dive but soon lapsed into unconsciousness, not breathing and pulseless, and her fellow dive crew had initiated CPR [and placed her on 100% oxygen therapy] while raising the alarm and speedily heading towards our sea rescue base for help,” he said.

Colonel Simon Matlou of the border police based at the harbour said information on their side was still sketchy.

“What we were told is that they were on a scuba diving session and she quickly resurfaced. The underwater pressure is different from the pressure on the surface so we were made to understand that to quickly resurface there are certain manoeuvres one needs to perform to avoid complications,” said Matlou.

Treatment is 100% oxygen on site and during transportation, followed by treatment in a decompression chamber.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.