Monday, June 02, 2008
Divers Left Alone At Sea For Nearly 20 Hours!
In what can best be described as a nightmare come true, British Diver Richard Neely, 38, and his American girlfriend Allyson Dalton, 40 were left behind by their diving group last week, and were forced to survive for more than 19 hours adrift at sea.
The couple was on vacation in Australia and were diving off the Great Barrier Reef. The dive was to last just one hour, but turned into an ordeal after they surfaced roughly 200 meters from their boat. The strong current was pulling them away, and they couldn't swim fast enough to reach their companions. Shouting for help had no effect, and soon the commercial diving boat left and three hours passed before anyone noticed that they were missing. An extensive search began shortly there after.
Neely and Dalton jettisoned their depleted oxygen tanks, and later their weight belts, to allow themselves to become more buoyant but as night set in, the water grew cooler. Neely remembered reading in a book that it was best to lash yourselves together in a situation like that, and in a move that may have saved their lives, the couple were able to share body warmth throughout the night.
The longer they were at sea, the more they began to think about the sharks that inhabited the area. The Great Barrier Reef is home to the largest shark population on the planet, and the two divers were afraid to even mention the word to one another. As the daw approached, there fear grew, as they knew that sharks were more likely to attack at dawn.
Fortunately the dawn also brought back warmth and light, allowing the search teams to continue their job. Eventually they were spotted by helicopter and pulled from the water, cold and wet, but only a little worse for wear.
If you've seen the movie Open Water you probably have a bit of an idea what these two were going through and how they might have been left behind. These large commercial diving boats often have a lot of people and a quick head count is performed before leaving the area. I guess in this case the head count was either not performed at all or it was a miscount, but either way, they're lucky to be alive. Something tells me that they may soon own that diving company. ;)