diver death at Jackson Blue, FL

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diver death at Jackson Blue, FL

Postby wendy » Mar 7, 2007 5:58 pm

Most all cave diving deaths (other than medical problems) can be traced back to breaking one fo the 5 guidelines/rules of cave diving. They are: don't dive beyond your training, continuous guideline to the surface, air limits, depth limits, light sources (3). And when reading articles in newspapers about diving incidents, keep in mind that usually the writer isnt' a diver and messes things up, such as referring to air tanks as oxygen, etc. So not all details my be accurate.

Source: http://www.jcfloridan.com/servlet/Sa...0&pat h=!news

Man who died cave diving was Marianna resident
Jackson County Floridan
March 7, 2007

Officials confirmed Tuesday the identity of the diver who died inside a spring cave at Blue Springs Recreational Area, as well as details surrounding his death.

Jackson County Sheriff John McDaniel said Harry Milliser, 48, of Dogwood Heights near Marianna, died of drowning Monday after becoming stuck in Jackson Blue, the spring cave that lies in close proximity to a recreational diving board inside the park.

Milliser is survived by his wife and two daughters. He was the owner and operator of Air Services, where he designed and built automotive paint booths.

According to McDaniel, Milliser had been a certfied open-water diver for more than 20 years, but he did not have the required certification for cave diving. He had frequently dove at other caves, including Twin Caves and Hole-in-the-Wall at Merritt's Mill Pond in Marianna.

"Cave diving is a trial enough when you do have the training and certification," said McDaniel, "When you do it without the certification, you're just asking for trouble. It's like flying a plane into the wild blue yonder without being trained to fly."

McDaniel confirmed some of the details surrounding Milliser's death. He said Milliser was diving with his friend, certified cave diver Gordon Smith of Marianna, when Milliser apparently became stuck. Smith surfaced and called for help.

The sheriff's office and local cave-diving expert Edd Sorenson responded within minutes.

McDaniel said that the sheriff's diving squad is not cave-certfiied, so Sorenson did a search inside the spring cave for the missing diver.

Sorenson recovered Milliser's body four minutes into the search, approximately 600 feet from the mouth of the cave, which lies about 85 feet from the surface.

Milliser was no longer wearing his double tanks, which he probably removed in a state of panic, said McDaniel. An autopsy later confirmed that the cause of death was drowning.

As for Milliser's diving partner Smith, whether or not he will face any charges has yet to be determined, pending investigation. A sheriff's press release reported that Smith has been a diver for about 30 years and works at an area dive shop.

McDaniel, who is a diver himself, said the longest part of the process of recovering Milliser's body was most likely Sorenson's ascent after finding him. Sorenson might have had to stop for decompression before exiting the water.

A decompression stop is when a diver spends time at the end of his dive at a constant depth in shallow water. This is a measure to eliminate harmful gases that the body absorbs while diving. Not doing so could lead to decompression sickness, otherwise know as "the bends."

McDaniel said that this is not the first diving fatality in Jackson County.

"We've had divers all over this county drown, usually people who aren't cave certified. I'd say about eight to 12 people in the past 30 years," said McDaniel, "When you push your limits or experience level, you're putting your life on the line."

Source: http://www.newsherald.com/headlines/...play.php?a=515

Panic led to diver’s death
By David Angier

Panama City News Herald
March 7, 2007

Harry Milliser took off gear, including his oxygen tank


A Jackson County man died after abandoning his dive gear and trying to swim out of a submerged cave.

Harry Milliser, 48, of Marianna, drowned Monday evening when he was trapped in the Jackson Blue spring of Blue Springs Recreation Area in Jackson County.

Edd Sorenson, owner of Cave Adventurers in Marianna and an experienced cave diver, said Tuesday he thought he was going to be able to rescue Milliser, but instead found evidence of a fatal panic. Sorenson arrived at the springs 12 minutes after the 9-1-1 call went out. He was in the water three minutes later and used a motorized scooter to reach Milliser as quickly as possible.

Sorenson said he was traveling through the crystal clear water of the main passage when he encountered a thick cloud of silt about 700 feet in. He said he took a side passage to the left and followed the silt to Milliser’s body, which was 70 feet down the side passage and 96 feet underwater.

Sorenson said Milliser had taken off his diving gear, including his tank, which still had oxygen.

He said Jackson Blue is a popular destination for cave divers. He said the walls are white limestone with unique formations. The water is clear with unlimited visibility and the main passage clearly is marked with a gold-colored guideline.

“Of course, the allure of cave diving is what’s around the next corner,” Sorenson said. “It’s usually a very safe cave dive.”

He said “99.9 percent” of fatal accidents in cave diving happen when a diver exceeds his training or capabilities.

“I would think that’s what happened here,” Sorenson said.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Maj. John Dennis said Milliser was not a certified cave diver. Milliser was certified to dive in open water and had 20 years of experience in that sport. His partner on this trip, Gordon Smith, 58, had a basic cave-diving certification.

Smith told investigators Milliser got stuck in a narrow part of the side passage they had taken. Smith went to the surface to alert the authorities and a 9-1-1 call was placed.

Dennis said there have been a number of accidents in Blue Springs over the years, but he did not know a specific amount. The last fatality in the spring The News Herald reported was in 1999. Dennis said he thought there was another, more recent drowning.

He said Smith and Milliser had been diving in Blue Springs before.

“Basically, they went into the cave. Mr. Milliser became trapped in a small opening and drowned attempting to free himself,” Dennis said.
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