Diver died ‘in happy place’

2014-06-21 00:00

ADELE Stegen’s only wish was that she would die underwater.

“She died doing what she loved, in her happy place,” ­Stegen’s husband Tommie van Deventer said yesterday before returning home to Vryheid.

Stegen died in a freak accident on Wednesday morning in ­Umkomaas alongside world ­renowned diver Peter Timm while doing a 60-metre dive.

Her husband and her aunt, ­Elma Stegen, told Weekend Witness yesterday that even though they are heartbroken, they are at peace because Adele left them the way she would have wanted to.

“She was the most qualified woman diver in South Africa and one of the top instructors. Everyone in the world wanted her as an instructor,” Van Deventer said.

Van Deventer smiled as he ­recalled his memories of Stegen.

“She always laughed, and was always smiling. She was the most loveable person. We did everything together. I taught her to play golf, and she taught me how to dive,” he said.

Van Deventer had never dived before he met Stegen but he ­always accompanied her on her diving trips.

“I didn’t always like it when she dived. I was scared, but I knew that was who she was. One year they planned a trip to Madagascar and then I said I’ll go if they teach me how to dive!”

Timm also taught Van ­Deventer how to dive.

“We were like family with ­everyone at Triton Diving Lodge where Timm worked,” Van ­Deventer said.

He spoke with pride about his 100th dive before his 61st birthday with Stegen by his side.

“I grabbed her arm and I told her, don’t you dare let me go.”

Van Deventer was on the beach at Umkomaas when Stegen, Timm and back-up diver Dale Abernathy went out to sea to recover lost equipment from the Oceanographic Research Institute.

“I was there, watching them prepare and go out to sea. They are so professional, they always do extremely good planning and preparation before every single dive. When the boat came back to shore, I didn’t even know about the trouble they had in the ocean,” Van Deventer said.

He said he first realised something was wrong when he saw someone doing CPR on the boat.

“When I saw her in the boat, foaming at the mouth I just screamed, ‘Babe come back, come back!’ But I knew it was probably too late. You can’t surface that quickly from that depth,” Van Deventer said.

He said Timm would’ve given his life for Stegen.

“When he saw she was in trouble he also shot up and screamed for help. He tried to resuscitate her before he collapsed himself. He tried to save her, that’s the kind of guy he was,” Van ­Deventer said.

Stegen’s aunt Elma, her eyes filled with tears, said even though one doesn’t always ­understand why these things happen, Stegen had lived a full life and died in a good place.

“That makes it a bit easier to accept. Hopefully she’s still smiling like always,” she said.

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