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SCUBA DIVING :: FORUMS :: EDITORIALS :: WAVE DANCER

 

Sound familiar? "Inexperienced captain endangers passenger lives"...

Teresa Mars - Wife of Wave Dancer Victim Ray Mars
March 21, 2004 at 19:07:13

Does anyone else find the news about the PADI 5-Star Aqua Dive inexperienced captain being found to have endangered the lives of his passengers and being negligent somewhat familiar to a story we heard about in October, 2001? 

In the Aqua Dive case, in Australia, the captain was apparently inexperienced, and the Magistrate found that "money was the motivating factor" in keeping the passengers on board the dive boat in rough seas, that eventually capsized the boat. 

The Magistrate also said that the potential for loss of life was high, and that the lives of both the passengers and the rescuers were put into unnecessary danger. The captain was fined for "negligent navigating", and it was called a "clear case of negligence".

Fortunately for these passengers, they were all saved, when the rescuers pulled them from the water.  However, even with no loss of life, and even no major injuries, negligence was found. 

Why is the Belizean government stalling on the investigation of the Wave Dancer deaths and why have they not pursued any action against Wave Dancer captain Phillip Martin? I would be very interested to know what this Magistrate in Australia would find in the Wave Dancer case in which 20 people were killed unnecessarily.  It certainly was not an "unavoidable tragedy", the hurricane was predicted for days, and from Sunday afternoon on, was found to be heading directly for the coast of Belize.

This information was known all over the world, even in Maryland. But the victims knew next to nothing, because they were cut off from information when the radios were made "inoperable".  They had no way to find out what was actually happening, so any decisions they may have made would have been based on the information they were given by Peter Hughes and Philip Martin. 

So Hughes and Martin made the decisions, period. The fact that money was found to be the motivating factor in the Australian case is like a repeat performance of yet another incapable, inexperienced person being allowed to operate a dive boat with many lives at stake.

Sadly, in the case of the Wave Dancer deaths, there was no happy ending, as 20 innocent souls were killed, and the official findings have never been released. 

Think about it.  In January 2004 a dive boat certified in Australia capsized and people nearly died. Just two months later, maritime safety authorities in Australia have completed their investigation and the captain has been prosecuted for negligence.  But in Belize there is still nothing in the way of an official investigation report not to mention prosecution of those who would surely be found negligent for reckless decisions that led directly to the deaths of 20 innocent people.  They just can't get it done and there's no end in sight.

How many more years do we have to wait and how many more people must die in Belize before government officials there finally decide to get serious about public safety?

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