Scuba diving visitor drowns at Koloa Landing

A Kaua’i visitor died Friday during a scuba dive at Koloa Landing.

The man, 52, from Indiana, joined a tour for certified divers with Kapa’a-based Wet & Wonderful Ocean Sports, but encountered breathing difficulties and was towed to shore.

Chris Norman, the owner of Wet & Wonderful and dive master for the tour, said the group had been diving for about 10 minutes when the victim signaled that he was having trouble breathing.

Norman said that as they surfaced, he found the man had stopped breathing and was unresponsive. He started CPR while towing the 350-lb. man back to shore, alerted lifeguards on shore, who assisted him by removing the oxygen tank and weights, and continued CPR efforts until a medical rescue team arrived at about 11 a.m.

Kaua’i Fire Department Battalion Chief Bob Kaden said that bystanders estimated the victim had not been breathing for about five minutes. The brain can normally survive for about 4-6 minutes without oxygen, he said.

The team used an Automatic External Defibrillator machine on the victim, but the machine failed to recognize signs of life, though CPR was continued to be applied.

Following numerous attempts at reviving the man he was taken by American Medical Response to the Wilcox Memorial Hospital emergency room at 11:40 a.m.

The County public information office said that the victim’s name is being withheld pending notification of his next-of-kin.

The victim had been certified but hadn’t dove in quite a while, Norman said.

People perceive diving as a really dangerous sport but getting the proper training and realize your personal limitations it can be a very “can-do” sport, Norman said. In the years that lapsed after initially getting certified, the man’s health seemed to have deteriorated.

First-time divers are well screened for health problems, but certified divers are not, Norman said. There is no expiration on scuba certification.

People with asthma, heart problems, diabetes, or anyone over 45 years of age with a family history of heart attack or stroke should not dive, he said.

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