Deakin University
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Provisional report on diving-related fatalities in Australian waters 2010

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Version 2 2024-06-06, 05:19
Version 1 2017-01-18, 11:56
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-06, 05:19 authored by J Lippmann, C Lawrence, A Fock, T Wodak, S Jamieson, R Harris, D Walker
INTRODUCTION: An individual case review was conducted of known diving-related deaths that occurred in Australia in 2010. METHOD: The case studies were compiled using statements from witnesses and reports of the police and coroners. In each case, the particular circumstances of the accident and details from the post-mortem examination, where available, are provided. A root cause analysis was made for each case. RESULTS: There were 20 reported fatalities, one less than the previous year. Five of the victims were female (four scuba divers) and 15 were males. Twelve deaths occurred while snorkelling and/or breath-hold diving, seven while scuba diving (one of whom was using a rebreather), and one diver died while using surface supplied breathing apparatus. At least two breath-hold divers likely drowned as a result of apnoeic hypoxia. Cardiac-related issues were thought to have contributed to the deaths of at least three and possibly five snorkellers, and of at least one, possibly two compressed gas divers. CONCLUSIONS: Snorkelling or diving alone, poor supervision, apnoeic hypoxia, pre-existing medical conditions, lack of recent experience and unfamiliar and/or poorly-functioning equipment were features in several deaths in this series. Reducing delays to CT-scanning and autopsy and coroners' reports documenting that the victim of a drowning was snorkelling or scuba diving at the time are aspects of the investigation of these fatalities that could be improved.



Diving and hyperbaric medicine






Melbourne, Vic.

Open access

  • Yes





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, John Lippmann




South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society