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Cave Diving Fatality
01-06-2005, 08:51 PM,
Cave Diving Fatality

A Newberry man drowned Tuesday afternoon while he and his friends
were diving in a cave at Peacock Springs in Suwannee County.

David Benjamin Jones, 34, was last seen just after 1 p.m. by two
friends diving with him, said Suwannee County Sheriff Tony Cameron.

Cameron said that while diving, Jones told his friends he was low on
air and was leaving the cave. But Jones was eventually found in a
another section of the cave, indicating he got lost trying to swim
out, Cameron said.

Jones friends notified the Sheriff's office at about 2 p.m., Cameron
said. Jones had been missing for 55 minutes when a recovery diver
found his body. Jones was not a certified cave diver, Cameron said.

Cameron said the body was sent to the Medical Examiner's Office for
an autopsy, but that nothing indicates that foul play was involved.
01-07-2005, 02:53 AM, (This post was last modified: 01-07-2005, 02:54 AM by drifter1430.)
Re:Cave Diving Fatality
Why in God's name, didn't his so called buddies leave with him, especially if he was low on air? "Nothing" indicated Foul Play?
01-07-2005, 07:11 AM,
Re:Cave Diving Fatality
That sounds weird to me too. If he was giving a low on air or out of air signal, the dive was over for everyone and they should have all exited the cave with the victim leading the exit. I can't imagine what would bring the person to leave on his own or what would bring his buddies to let him leave.
01-07-2005, 10:20 AM,
Re:Cave Diving Fatality
Main Cause for diver's death,
Equipment failure...The Brain, his and his friends!
I hope I never have friends or buddies like his!
Rik O+<
01-07-2005, 11:17 AM,
Re:Cave Diving Fatality
I think it would be wise to not read into things until further details are released. I have heard more than one story on this unfortunate event so it looks like it's only speculation on the details for right now.
01-07-2005, 11:31 AM,
Re:Cave Diving Fatality
(01-07-2005, 11:17 AM)Todd link Wrote:I think it would be wise to not read into things until further details are released. I have heard more than one story on this unfortunate event so it looks like it's only speculation on the details for right now.
Todd=always the voice of reason Wink
01-07-2005, 11:43 AM,
Re:Cave Diving Fatality
Here is more information from a post on TDS:

Originally Posted by Shelly Orlowski on CDF
I am posting this report with great sadness and trepidation. I ask everyone to remember please that the family and friends of the victim have not yet had time to grieve nor have all of the facts become evident. As with any accident, there are conflicting reports of events. This accident is no exception. I will do my best to report the facts. If it seems that some things have been omitted it is because the eyewitness reports were conflicting or it is not known at this time.

Three people entered Peacock III to do a dive to Henley’s Castle. The victim’s certification level was that of Cavern diver. His gear configuration was consistent with an Intro to Cave level diver (single tank PST E8130 with H-valve); he was also carrying a stage bottle. The three divers were exiting the castle when the victim indicated that he was out of air. One of the buddy’s (Buddy #1) gave him a full stage bottle and they continued out. Buddy # 2 subsequently had a problem and Buddy #1 stopped to help. That was the last time either buddy saw the victim. The victim reportedly swam past his stage bottle and continued to exit the cave.
They continued out of the cave expecting to find him on deco. When he was not there, Buddy #2 went for help and reported a missing diver. Buddy #1 went back into the cave to look for him.
The two recovery divers got in the water as Buddy #1 surfaced and reported that he had found him and told the recovery divers where to look. The victim was found approx. 1300 feet from the entrance.
After exiting Henley’s Castle heading outbound the victim had taken the first jump to the left (no reel deployed). He was located about 300 feet down that tunnel facing outbound completely out of gas.

I understand that there are still several unanswered questions at this time and that this report may cause some new ones. I ask that we be patient and I am confident they will be answered in the near future.

It has also been verified that either Buddy #1 OR Buddy #2 was a certified PADI and NSS-CDS instructor.

I gathered this information from this link on TDS:

01-07-2005, 01:47 PM,
Re:Cave Diving Fatality
Ahh, thanks. That makes sense.

I don't have enough time to browse TDS as much as I'd like...there are only so many forums I can visit while goofing off at work ;D
01-07-2005, 02:12 PM,
Re:Cave Diving Fatality
It must drive cavers nuts to hear stories like this. These deaths seem so senseless and simple to prevent. Don't go into a cave if you aren't cave certified. I guess we see the same thing up here every couple of years when someone goes ice diving without the proper support and training.
01-07-2005, 06:03 PM,
Re:Cave Diving Fatality
More details from TDS:

Diver drowns in Peacock Springs

Author: Yvette Hannon, Democrat Reporter
Publication Date: 2005-01-06

David Benjamin Jones, 34, of Newberry, went to Peacock Springs Jan. 4 to enjoy cave diving with his instructor and a friend but something went terribly wrong. Jones never made it out of the cave alive and left behind in his own handwriting his epitaph. When his body was recovered, he had written on a slate he carried the words, "I made a mistake."

Jones' instructor, Alan Heck, of Gainesville, and fellow student diver Gene Page of Micanopy were at the springs for Page to complete some training when the tragedy occurred.

According to a report filed by Suwannee County Sheriff’s Cpl. David Manning, Heck said he, Page and Jones had gone to Peacock Springs III to do some diving and complete a 'deep dive' Page needed. According to Heck, the plan was for the three divers to descend 185 feet to a cave system called 'Hendley's Castle.' Heck told Manning there are permanent ropes to guide divers in and out of the cave. Heck said all three divers carried 'buddy bottles' of compressed air, and Jones and Page dropped their bottles off at a decompression stop area approximately 400 - 500 feet from the entrance of the cave.

Heck told Manning that Jones was the only one using a single air tank system so Heck kept his 'buddy bottle' in case Jones needed it. Heck stated during the exit of the cave Jones was in front because he had a bright light. Page was in the middle because he did not have a bright light, and Heck was in the rear with his bright light.

The divers descended to Hendley's Castle, Heck said, but added he was surprised Jones descended with them. Heck told the deputy that Jones gave no indication of any problem and the three descended 185 feet. Heck said after completing the dive, the divers began their ascent and that was when Jones signaled he was running out of air. Heck said he then gave Jones his 'buddy bottle,' Jones signaled he was okay, and Jones headed toward the cave's exit, following the ropes on his own.

Heck stated Jones was 50 - 60 feet away when he and Page lost sight of Jones and assumed he was going to the surface. When Heck got to the decompression stop, he told the deputy he noticed Jones' 'buddy bottle' was in the same location where Jones left it. Heck said he assumed Jones had excited the water and went to the surface to check on Jones.

But, Jones was still inside the cave, and Heck went back in to look for him, first finding his buddy bottle, then his student inside a side tunnel. Meanwhile, Page had gone to call for help.

In spite of efforts to revive Jones when Heck located him, Heck said Jones was not breathing and eventually gave up and secured Jones' body to the guide rope inside the cave and returned to the surface to await help to retrieve the body.

The call came in to 911 dispatch at 2:04 p.m. from a fellow diver and Jacksonville fire fighter requesting help for an apparent drowning of a cave diver. The Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office, Fire/Rescue, Florida Park Service and Fire/Rescue supervisor Murel McDonald responded to the scene.

Rescue divers John Orlowski of Live Oak and Daniel Bouillon of Quebec, Canada brought Jones’ body to the surface at 3:35 p.m. Orlowski, Bill Williams and Reggie Ross of Gainesville were part of the team that conducted the recovery and paperwork afterward. Bill Williams and wife Dawn are instructor divers who were visiting the park from Pennsylvania.

Orlowski told Manning he found Jones inside the jump tunnel lying face down on the ground floor of the cave approximately 65 feet from the entrance of the jump tunnel and 1,000 feet from the entrance/exit of the cave. Other divers reported to Manning that Hendley's Castle is located approximately 700 - 800 feet from the entrance of the cave and depth starts at 55 feet and ends at 190 feet. Orlowski said Jones was wearing what divers call a slate and written on the second page of the slate were the words, "I made a mistake.

Heck stated that, "David never 'called the dive' which is an indicator to cease the dive and ascend immediately."

Jones' body was taken to the medical examiner's office in Jacksonville where cause of death will be determined.

The North Florida Cave and Technical Divers website posts safety warnings for potential cave divers to help prevent loss of life, which is rare among certified cave divers and more apt to happen to those not following the rules or not fully trained. Among the five warnings are 1) Be trained for cave diving and remain within the limits of your training, 2) Maintain a continuous guideline to the cave exit, 3) Keep two thirds of your starting gas volume in reserve to exit the cave, 4) Remain within the safest possible operating limits for your breathing media, and 5) Use three sources of light.

Why is proper training essential to safe cave diving? Because without proper training, you are sure to have a cave diving accident and become a statistic, says, a cave diving website site.

An investigation into the death is continuing.

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