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Oriskany Death
kaz1863 - 8/23/2007 9:28 AM
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Category: Educational
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Oriskany diver dies Thyrie Bland A man who died over the weekend after diving at the Oriskany could be the artificial reef�s first dive-related death. The 39-year-old, whose name was not released, died sometime after being taken to Baptist Hospital on Saturday, said Steve Lewallen, a U.S. Coast Guard civilian search and rescue controller. The Oriskany is a decommissioned aircraft carrier that was sunk 24 miles southeast of Pensacola in the Gulf of Mexico in 2006. As expected, it has become a popular dive spot, attracting divers from all over the world. Saturday�s death occurred after the victim surfaced from a dive and was having difficulty breathing. He also was in and out of consciousness, Lewallen said. It appeared that the man was having symptoms of the bends, Lewallen said. The bends, also known as decompression sickness, describes a variety of symptoms that occur when someone experiences a reduction in body pressure. It can occur when a diver ascends too rapidly during a dive or does not carry out decompression stops after a long or deep dive. Once the 39-year-old was back aboard the H2O Below, a local charter boat, a registered nurse administered oxygen. A call for help also was made. �They couldn�t depart immediately because other divers were in the water,� Lewallen said. A Coast Guard boat was launched to meet the H2O. The boats met just outside Pensacola Pass. The victim was put aboard the rescue boat and taken to the Pensacola Coast Guard station where a helicopter was waiting to take the him to Baptist. �He died a few hours after he got to the hospital,� Lewallen said. In 2006, another man died after a dive at the Oriskany, but his death not dive related, officials said. Chester �Chet� Alan Robinson, 55, who owned a tattoo and body piercing shop, went into cardiac arrest after boarding a recreational boat and removing his scuba gear. Robinson stopped taking his medications after having a stent placed in his heart in February 2006. He had been advised by his doctor not to dive. Jim Phillips, part owner of MBT Divers on Navy Boulevard, said people make the Oriskany dive just about everyday. �Everybody talks about what an incredible dive it is,� he said. �It�s a beautiful spot.� Phillips said he has made the dive about five times. �There are some locals that have made the dive over 100 times,� he said. �They still come back talking about how awesome it was.� Phillips said he does not think Saturday�s death will discourage divers from making the dive. �For the most part, it�s just an unfortunate occurrence,� he said.