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Death in Belize: The Lessons of the Wave Dancer Tragedy

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Peter Bennett, DAN, Divers Alert Network
Many questions, no answers, 20 dead people.

The Wave Dancer tragedy raises disturbing questions about how Peter Hughes Diving Inc (and the Aggressor Fleet) conduct off-shore dive trips in regions that are prone to severe weather disturbances.

Did the head office, which was in constant contact with the Wave Dancer captain, make all of the critically important decisions along the way?

Why did Wave Dancer leave port after the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for Belize?

Why didn't Wave Dancer pull the hook on Sunday and return to Belize City where evacuation procedures were under way?

Why did Wave Dancer wait until Monday morning to leave? Why did they go south to Big Creek with National Hurricane Center tracking models predicting that Iris would move in that direction?

Why, after making all of the wrong decisions and placing the vessel and customers directly in the path of an oncoming Category 4 hurricane, did they ignore local officials who warned boat personnel to move everyone ashore to emergency shelters?

Why did the boat captain threaten to fire crew who wanted to go ashore to emergency shelters?

Why were the guests casually dining and drinking just before the hurricane slammed into Big Creek? 

Why, after 20 people were killed aboard Wave Dancer, did Wayne Hasson of the Aggressor Fleet insist that liveaboards are safer than emergency shelters in Category 4 hurricanes?

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