The family of a Taiwanese tourist who drowned on a recreational SCUBA dive at Hahei in November 2014 will receive $70,000 in reparations.

Waikato diving operator, Cathedral Cove Dive Limited (CCDL) and its director Russell Cochrane had earlier pleaded guilty to three charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE) for failing to keep the victim safe. A reserved sentencing decision was released by the Hamilton District Court today. No fine was imposed.

On 4 November 2014, the victim was left to swim unsupervised while wearing scuba equipment selected by Cochrane- she swam out of the enclosed bay where the dive was taking place, exhausted her air supply and was found hours later floating face down in the water.

Aside from inadequate supervision, she was fitted with a buoyancy compensator device (BCD) which was too large which made it far more difficult for her to lift her head out of the water to breathe.

WorkSafe Chief Inspector, Keith Stewart, says the victim’s death was entirely preventable if CCDL had given her appropriately sized gear and supervised her as they were required to do.

“The ill-fitted equipment compromised the victim’s ability to try and breathe when her air supply ran out and the lack of supervision meant she was able to become separated from the dive supervisor and leave the sheltered bay. It also meant that she could not immediately notify someone of her distress nor be provided with assistance,” says Keith Stewart.

“Water-related activities like scuba diving always come with the risk of drowning. As a professional diving operator, CCDL should have managed this obvious risk and been vigilant with their clients especially groups such as Discover SCUBA Dive Experiences where the participants have no experience,” say Mr Stewart.

“Sadly a woman has lost her life and a family have lost a mother because of failures by the company and its director to meet their legal obligations.”

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