Veteran UNOCAL commercial diver drowns during CCR rebreather wreck dive
Fred Evans 1955-2006
For corrections and additions, please contact me directly Steve Burton 16 April 2006
Fred Evans – Rebreather incident causes tragic loss
On the 4 April 2006, I was given the extremely sad news that Veteran UNOCAL commercial diver and local wreck diving legend Fred Evans died during a CCR rebreather dive on the Japanese shipwreck Tottorri Maru in the South China Sea.
Fred was perhaps the most respected, skilled and totally competent diver in South East Asia. Fearless & indestructible; with a diving experience honed from 30 years offshore commercial diving and cautiously developing his already not inconsiderate wreck diving skills penetrating the engine rooms of more wrecks than even I know about. I will personally miss Fred; I feel much less safe on every dive I make now, knowledgeable that if an unforeseen diving incident can strike a diver like Fred, then what chance do I have? I can only imagine that some form of totally unforeseen rebreather control loop problem caused his tragic loss.
Fred was eventually recovered and found to be unresponsive lying on the wreck in approx 50meters depth, approx 30mins after an attempt had been made to assist him to the surface while he was apparently suffering the symptoms of an acute CNS Oxygen toxicity attack.
On this fateful day, a second diver also drowned. Fred’s buddy, diver Paul Wilson from England put in an absolutely outstanding rescue/body recovery attempt – staying with Fred on the bottom at 50meters until his last breath of bottom gas. It was only the extremely violent nature of Fred’s Acute O2 CNS attack with flailing limbs everywhere that made it impossible to assist him to the surface. Paul then had to make an emergency out of air ascent to the surface after approx 35mins of bottom time, blowing off all his very formal decompression obligations. In desperation, he took a breath from his own Oxygen deco gas at 30m or maybe even deeper, and immediately succumbed to an acute CNS O2 attack as would be expected; He too then passed out and drowned.
As Paul convulsed on the down line, another dive team member Stewart Oehl tried to make Paul take a regulator to breath from, but without success. As Paul passed out, Stewart put a puff of gas in his BCD to send him towards the surface, where he might stand a better chance of survival.
Divers at the surface recovered Paul’s body quickly, and he was swiftly lifted onto the dive boat. He was confirmed apparently dead with no breathing. After 5 mins non breathing, he spontaneously regained vital signs during a desperate attempt at revival by the teams videographer Vidiot whereupon Paul coughed and regained semi consciousness, only to succumb a second time to severe, life threatening DCS from his missed formal decompression and rapid ascent. By no small miracle, Paul later made a full recovery following several US Navy treatment tables administered a few hours later on board a nearby oil rig Diver Support vessel with onboard recompression facilities under contract from Mermaids Maritime Co Ltd (Laem-Chabang, Thailand), and further treatment received at the Koh Samui recompression chamber.
Fred was diving from MV Trident, a purpose built well equipped shipwreck exploration vessel based at Koh Tao, Thailand. It is as a direct result of MV Trident crew’s swift response to the incident, and the swift assistance of the Mermaids Maritime’s Diver Support Vessel that the second diver subsequently made a full recovery.
It is still extraordinary that the second diver Paul Wilson survived. It seems almost certain that from the evidence of the empty O2 bottle recovered so far, that Fred’s CCR suffered a fault that lead to excessive Oxygen injection into the breathing loop triggering Fred’s massive underwater acute CNS attack that lead to his drowning.
Article Sources & Contacts
- Steve Burton (Editor for this article) email:- firstname.lastname@example.org web:- http://www.thaiwreckdiver.com Tel +66-81-652-3197
- Jamie Macleodjamie@masterdive.org http://www.techthailand.com/ email@example.comTel +66-89-591-3186
- Andrew Scarey – HSE Facility Team Leader, Mermaids Maritime Tel +66-38-318-300
- Other Contacts related to the Rescue Efforts that secured the recovery of Diver Paul Wilson
- Simon Turner – General Manager, Offshore Services, Mermaids Maritime +66-38-318-349
- Mark Sheppard – Offshore Services, Mermaids Maritime +66-38-318-301
- Recompression facilities Contacts
SSS Recompression Chamber Network
Hyperbaric Services of Thailand
34/8 Moo 4 Bophut
Funeral Report – Courtesy of The Courier Newspaper http://www.thecourier.co.uk
‘used with permission’
Funeral of Scot in diving accident
THE FUNERAL took place in Bangkok yesterday of a former Arbroath man who died in a diving accident last week.
Commercial diver Fred Evans (50) died at a depth of 45 metres while diving on a Japanese second world war wreck in the Gulf of Thailand last Tuesday.
Scots from throughout south-east Asia attended a tartan procession led by a Scottish Bhuddist monk in Mr Evans’s honour in the Thai capital.
An investigation has yet to determine how Mr Evans, a qualified saturation diver with over 30 years’ experience, died.
A fellow diver, Australian Craig Challon, who was with Mr Evans at the time of the accident, believes faulty equipment may be to blame.
He said, “It looks as if it was a problem with the equipment. The oxygen may have become toxic. Fred was using a rebreather which should have allowed him to survive under water for eight hours. The equipment has been sent to Australia for testing.”
Mr Evans was found close to death above the wreck by another diver, Paul Wilson from England.
Mr Wilson tried to save Mr Evans but suffered the bends himself in the process and required treatment in a decompression chamber.
Mr Evans worked as a diver in the North Sea, originally for Comex, before moving to Asia to work for Unocal, which is part of the Chevron group.
He was a popular figure in Bangkok and a member of both the St Andrew’s Society and Bangkok Football League.
He is survived by his wife Elsie and four sons—Peter (20), Michael (18), Richard (16) and Andrew (14).
Fred’s wife Elsie is a gifted and sensitive artist who lives in Bangkok, Thailand to this day. A selection of her work is exhibited online here http://www.elsiepaints.com/
Yesterday at Wat Tad Ton temple in Bangkok, a cremation procession was led by Bhuddist monk Neil Hunter Blair, originally from Lower Largo, but who has been a monk in Thailand for 35 years.
A piper played Amazing Grace and Flower of Scotland as some 200 guests from Scotland, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia paid their respects.