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Steve Acton

Mark Longstreath
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Died 3rd September 2007

USA. Post 'Katrina' salvage ops. "Using a grinder on a fallen structure deck plate, heard a weird noise and that was it". Diver was using a hydraulic underwater grinder to cut a window into 5/8 inch steel plate. There was an underwater explosion. Deck crew on the S-355 barge reported hearing a boom and some individuals stated that they felt the shock wave of the explosion. The videotape that was recording the diver’s movements was non-operational. An unspecified number of minutes elapsed before bell partner reached unresponsive diver 1. Upon reaching diver, the standby opened the free-flow valve on his diving hat. This action caused the diving helmet to become completely detached leaving the diver’s head exposed to sea water, without access to any breathing apparatus. Diver immediately attempted to replace the helmet and hold it in place. During this time a surface standby diver was sent to assist. The bell partner, with or without the assistance of the surface diver, brought the injured diver into the bell, and following assessment while in communication with the diving physician, initiated chest compressions. Injured diver was raised to surface in the bell but pronounced dead.. Investigation ongoing. An interim technical report raised issue of potential for underwater explosion when cutting into a gas pocket with a grinder (underwater grinding 'sparks' not generally raised as an issue in risk assessments).


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