Under-Staffed Diving Excursion Leads to Death of 17 Year Old Carnival Cruise Passenger in Grand Turk

The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police website states that a 17 year old U.S. tourist was pulled from the waters off Grand Turk in what the police call a diving accident on April 4, 2012.  

Professor Ross Klein's website and members of Cruise Critic state that the incident involved a teenage from the Carnival Pride cruise ship who was on a Carnival sanctioned excursion with Oasis Divers, which advertises:

"Our professional and courteous staff makes sure your experience is unforgettable. Many of our guides have been diving these waters for years and have an astounding knowledge of the reef and dive sites. Our divemasters take care of all the details to ensure your time with Oasis Divers is everything you’ve dreamed of in a dive shop. From setting up your equipment each day to detailed dive site descriptions and briefings, Oasis Divers prides itself on our fantastic team. We dive in small groups and guarantee personalized service from your divemaster." 

According to Cruise Critic, the young man went into the water in a group of 16 divers with only 2 instructors in the water.  If the Cruise Critic information is correct, a ratio of 8 divers to 1 instructor is grossly insufficient and probably constitutes criminal malfeasance - particularly if there are new or inexperienced divers.

The young cruise passenger was treated at a local hospital and then flown to the U.S. where he died at a hospital.

The police report also mentions two recent snorkeling deaths on the island, including a 80 year old tourist and and a 62 year old described as a cruise passenger.

A scuba message board discusses these cases and suggests that Carnival and Holland America Cruise Lines suspended their contracts with the diving excursion company. 

Last week we reported on a Celebrity cruise passenger from the Equinox who died during a diving excursion in Cozumel.

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Big Al - April 17, 2012 3:14 PM

A further comment by one of the people on the boat that day was that there were 3 Instructors in the water with 15 students. It should be noted that these 15 (16 started, one dropped out) are NOT certified scuba divers. They are "Resort Course" or "Discover Scuba Diving" students that have not received the normal 40+ hours of instruction only a brief lesson possibly less than 2 hours. Still a ratio of 1 to 5 is well beyond "normal"

Jim - January 22, 2013 2:29 PM

I dove with this dive company in Jan 2013. This was a princess shore excursion. I did not know of this incident prior. One of the passengers I dove with was an attorney. I joked with him that the Oasis divers must be afraid of being sued since they had so many papers to sign and actually had you sign in and out before and then after each of the two tank dives on a clipboard. I have never done this....ever. Now I know why. We had 13 in our group with two dive masters. Dive was fine and all went well except.... we had one diver that had not dove in 25 years and he consumed all of the dive masters time which impeded our experience. Nice dive sites and good personnel. Equipment was good with everything set up ahead of time. Our names were on the equipment which was set up and ready to go on the boat.

Robert Haddenhorst - January 30, 2013 4:53 PM

Dear Jim,
I am the aforementioned diver on 1/18. While it is true that I had not dove in 25 years, that had nothing to do with "Pepper", our divemaster impeding your "experience". I was grossly underweighted and told Pepper this fact after our first dive. He refused to add weight and said my kicking was the problem. Oh by the way, I was abandoned by you, the rest of team two and Pepper on the second dive. I was left ALONE to fend for myself and find my way back to the dive boat. You want to talk about impeding your experience. Sorry, bub, errr Jim, you have nothing to bitch about compared to my experience. I have filed a complaint with Princess Cruises and PADI regarding my "experience".

rob - September 28, 2013 3:16 PM

I just had a great dive with oasis divers in September and had 2 dive masters with 10 divers. all were experienced c- card divers only one diver did not do a recent dive. we all had a great dive .
sorry but accidents can happen any where and any time.

will - May 30, 2014 8:00 AM

This story is tragic like any report of someone dying while participating in any sport. However I would like to add that diving is a high risk sport and many things can go wrong while diving. I have not and don't believe many have seen the results of the accident investigation regarding this incident. The truth of the matter is we don't even know if this young man was with a divemaster when the accident took place or if he was with an adult experienced family member. My point is we should not be so inclined to fault anyone before the facts are known. I can only blame the sport for this young man's death. I have diving for years and have never gone into the water without knowing the risks involved. Carnival and the Dive Shop have some responsibility, however in the end we all have to realize the risks are our own. In this case the parents have to be certain the child is properly trained. If he was, then they have to understand the risks. If a child in high school is playing football on the school team, and there is proper training, there could be a fatal tragic accident as well. That's all I wanted to say. God bless the family of this young man.

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