Diver ‘was one of South Africa’s best’

2014-06-20 00:00

THE husband of Adele Stegen, who died with renowned diver Peter Timm at Umkomaas on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, believes equipment failure could have resulted in their deaths.

Timm and Stegen died on Wednesday while attempting a search and ­recovery of research equipment at a depth of 58 metres that was lost by a research vessel owned by the Oceanographic Research Institute.

The two were technical divers from Triton Diving Lodge in Sodwana Bay and were hired by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to recover the equipment.

Tommie van Deventer, Stegen’s husband of 11 years, said she was one of the best technical divers in South Africa.

“This dive for her, was nothing out of the ordinary. She’s done multiple back-up dives,” Van Deventer said.

He believes that a problem with the divers’ buoyancy lines may have caused his wife to surface too quickly.

“You simply cannot come up that quick from that depth, your lungs will burst,” Van Deventer said.

He described his wife as the most beautiful woman on Earth.

“She was an incredible diver, one of the best. She was the first South African woman to do the deepest dive at 123 metres.”

Van Deventer said it was just a huge accident.

“It was just her time to go, unfortunately,” he said.

He said that Stegen’s goal in life was to see the coelacanth and she achieved that goal earlier this year while diving with Timm at Jessers Canyon in Sodwana Bay.

Jean Harris, head of Ezemvelo’s Scientific Division, said Timm was a real legend.

“On both land and water his enthusiasm and commitment was contagious,” said Harris.

“His ability to foster confidence in the people he trained and in divers of all capabilities was remarkable. Conservation in South Africa has lost a true ambassador.”

Dale Abernathy (19) was the third diver on the search and recovery team.

Timm was Abernathy’s boss at Triton Diving Lodge and he said he was very well acquainted with Stegen.

“Peter was my boss, I knew him very well. He was like a father to me,” Abernathy said.

He said he did not want to talk about what happened on that fateful morning.

Colonel Jay Naicker said they do not have more information on what happened and that an inquest docket will be investigated by Umkomaas police.

Van Deventer drove down to Durban yesterday from Vryheid with Stegen’s aunt, Elma Stegen.

They said they will only know more about what happened after the forensic report has been finalised.

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