The posts about the dive shop are off-topic...
Teresa Mars - Non-Diver/Wife of Wave Dancer victim
March 17, 2005 at 09:36:43
The last several postings have been mostly about Dive Expressions, a dive shop in Richmond, Va. Several people seem mainly interested in blaming them for anything that happened with the Wave Dancer. Ray and I did not live in Richmond, but had met many members (most of whom also perished) on a previous trip. We greatly enjoyed their company, and Ray enjoyed diving with so many other experienced, serious divers. They welcomed us, as the only non-RDC members on the previous trip, into their group, were very friendly, and never appeared to be "clickish" or political. In fact, they were people of various backgrounds (didn't meet even one spoiled, rich diver), who had the common interest of scuba diving. We enjoyed their company, and Ray especially enjoyed the various dives he had with several different people.
Not being from Richmond, I know absolutely nothing about Dive Expressions, so have no previous interest in them. It doesn't seem to me that whoever set the trip up, or argued with CDNN after the tragedy (remember the extremely heated emotions of everyone at that time), changes the facts concerning the actual capsizing of the Wave Dancer. This is supposed to be about that, not an attack on another individual or two. Those from Dive Expressions did not make the decision, as did Captain Martin, along with Peter Hughes, to keep the Wave Dancer out in open water for one full day past the time they should have headed to shore, and safety. Nothing anyone else but those directly connected with the command of the Wave Dancer did had anything to do with the deaths of 20 innocent victims, who should be very much alive today.
It does absolutely no good to blame anyone else, it is completely off-topic. Please consider who was making these decisions, and remember what the suviving diver, Mary Lou Hayden, said, they were not given any weather reports after about noon on Sunday, October 7, 2001. They were never informed that Iris had become a Category 4 storm, extremely dangerous, and life-threatening. They were never informed that the entire coastline of Belize was under the hurricane warning, not just north of Belize City, as they were originally told, and continued to be told. They also were told that Iris was Category 1, and that was never changed, as far as the divers were informed.
The divers were not insisting on staying aboard the Wave Dancer, because they were "on holiday", and nothing would interrupt that for them, nor were they spoiled, demanding people, not a single one of them. So, to blame the divers for their own fate, or to blame a dive shop for the deaths, is just to take the blame off of those who are responsible for what actually happened. That serves no good purpose, but rather degrades the real subject of this report, and the capsizing itself, that is, the loss of 20 lives. The importance needs to be correctly placed.
In addition, in the report, there is a glaring error that I spotted immediately. That is under 6.14.4 "The staff at Peter Hughes, Inc. had informed the next of kin of the deceased U.S. nationals." That is completely untrue. As the "next of kin", as in wife, of one of the "deceased U.S. nationals", I can say absolutely that that did not happen. I was initially informed of the capsizing by a member of the RDC, at approximately 4:40am on October 9, 2001.
After making so many calls I cannot even begin to count, and waiting long hours, until 6:45pm that day, I finally found out what had really happened to Ray, my husband of 33 years, by calling the State Department, being put on hold for several minutes, and finally being told by Ian Brownlee how sorry he was. No one had yet actually told me that Ray had been killed, even though he was apparently among the first victims found, the night before. Mr. Brownlee never said the actual words to me, until I asked him why he was sorry. He finally told me that Ray had been identified as one of the deceased U.S. nationals. That is when I was informed, after 14 hours of extremely intense waiting, begging for information, not being called at any time by Peter Hughes or anyone from his staff, no matter what they say. I never left the phone, all day.
So, the statement in the report gives the impression that Peter Hughes was such a wonderful, caring man that he or his staff had personally notified every family, and that is just not true. He did not care one bit about notifying anyone, did not care about anyone but himself. If you have read any previous articles on the Wave Dancer capsizing, you will read that Peter Hughes always says how horrible this has been for him. It is all about him, all the time.
Finally, think about the difference in Peter Hughes and Captain Martin's responsibilities for this disaster, and the continuing pain that will forever follow, and some dive shop in Richmond, and you should come to the same conclusion, there is no comparison.