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Overdue Diver Kapiti Island Sunday

Overdue Diver Kapiti Island Sunday

18th May 2008

Wellington Police Search and Rescue are critical of a scuba divers inadequate preparation and decision to dive alone after an overdue diver was reported to the Police Central Communications centre at 2pm on Sunday 18th May 2008 off Browns Island, a small island towards the south end of Kapiti Island, Paraparaumu.

The diver a 49 year old local man went for a dive off Browns Island at 12.35pm today intending to dive for half an hour and was due to surface at 1.05pm. When the diver had not surfaced as scheduled the three people on board the dive boat correctly raised the alarm by cell phone to Police on 111. Considerable resources were immediately dispatched to the area including the Kapiti and Waikanae Coastguard boats, the Kapiti Coastguard Air Patrol fixed wing aircraft and the Westpac Rescue helicopter.

The Lady Elizabeth III Police launch started heading from Wellington to Kapiti Island and the Mana Coastguard were also paged. Six local boats under the on-scene control of the Kapiti Coastguards Pharazyn Rescue boat were conducting a line abreast search heading south from the last known point, the Westpac Rescue helicopter and Kapiti Coastguard fixed wing had commenced sector searches when the overdue diver was spotted on the surface by a boat 'Georgia' just before 3pm that was returning to shore to refuel, about one nautical mile east of Browns Island in mid channel. The diver had surfaced as scheduled but had been 300 metres or more from his dive boat and wasn't spotted by his dive boat in the choppy conditions.

He initially went south for about half a kilometre then the changing tide took him east before being slowly taken northeast to where he was found. The diver was the subject of a previous search in the same area just under a month ago when he was diving alone and was caught in a rip taking him into mid channel between Kapiti Island and the mainland.

All Divers are reminded of the basic safety rules that they should not dive alone, should carry a $10 safety sausage with them aiding in them being spotted more easily in the event they are separated from their dive boat.

The boatman or person on the boat should not rely solely on a cell phone as their only means of raising the alarm but also have a working marine VHF radio to alert Maritime Operations and boats in the area on the emergency channel 16. Sergeant Bruce Johnston Wellington Police Search and Rescue Squad

Issued By: Sergeant Aaron Alderton


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