Chairman’s safety warning after diver’s tragic death

THE CHAIRMAN of Montrose Sub Aqua Club has warned of the sport’s dangers after the death of a man off the Fife coast last week.

Ernst Struckmeier said that there is usually an increase in divers getting in to difficulties at this time of year as they return to their sport after taking the winter off.

Mr Struckmeier said there is a huge range of issues that could have led to the tragedy.

The body of 42-year-old Glenrothes man James Irvine was recovered by Forth Coastguard on Friday. An experienced diver, Mr Irvine drowned while looking for scallops in Largo Bay at Leven. He had been on a chartered boat with two friends and the alarm was raised after he failed to return to the surface.

Mr Struckmeier said: “It is very difficult to speculate on what could have happened to the man because there are 101 things that could have gone wrong.

“At around this time of year in 2009 there were three people drowned at the Sound of Mull over the course of 10 days.

“It is quite common for people to come back after the winter break having not kept themselves fit or exercised and they quickly get in to problems because they over-estimate their own ability.

“When people have a long spell without diving and go straight back into the water without having acclimatised there is always a danger.”

Mr Struckmeier also said he himself makes sure he keeps swimming throughout the winter to ensure he is in the right condition to return to the sport at the start of the new season. Members of the Montrose club also recently completed safety training with the crew of the Arbroath lifeboat which showed them how to ditch equipment and call for help in an emergency.

He said: “Looking back at the history it is very often the case that at the beginning of the season divers get into difficulty.

“The exercise with the Arbroath lifeboat was the first time our members have been out into the water with them to see how difficult a rescue operation can be.

“It was a very valuable lesson because it is important to know how quickly a situation can get out of control and become life threatening.

“I have been with Montrose Sub Aqua Club since 1978. I stick to my own rules don’t go very deep and know my own decompression times.

“But I have known enough people in my time that have not realised the dangers.”

Further information about diving is available at www.bsac.com.