ScottCassell 5168 2 203x300 Tragedy at the Breakwater: A checkout dive goes wrong

Scott Cassell

My Girlfriend started SCUBA school in September 2012, largely due her newly developed interest in the undersea world after coming with me, Scott Cassell, on several expeditions. My girlfriend asked me to accompany her to her pool training, and after arriving, I met her two bay-area SCUBA instructors during the first training session at their dive shop. During our initial meeting, the instructors seemed somewhat distant from me, but verbalized many times that they would openly accept my presence during my girlfriend’s open-water (ocean) training dives. I was excited to be a part of her first dive experience and seeing her earn her certification, and she was both comforted and more confident knowing that I would be present.

Living several hours away, we decided to drive to Monterey the night before the open water training began (Friday, December 14th) so we could get a solid start with the SCUBA class at 7:30am and not be rushed in the morning. We checked in to our hotel and looked forward to the checkout dives the next day.

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Story submitted by Scott Cassell, independent contributor.
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At 7:15am Saturday, we arrived at the Breakwater and settled in next to the SCUBA Instructors’ three-pointed tent where my girlfriend’s class was staging. We immediately noticed that both instructors were not acting friendly towards us, were stand-off-ish and seemed irritated at us for no apparent reason. My girlfriend and I thought this may have been due to the two instructors being under stress from having to organize such a large class (I think between 11 to 13 students). It also crossed my mind that, contrary to their earlier approvals, perhaps neither instructor wanted me there.

GEARING UP FOR THE DIVE
My girlfriend and I decided to finish getting prepared for the first dive, and she politely asked one of the instructors where the weights were for her to use. Answering sharply and sarcastically, he said “use your own.” Lucky for us, I always bring enough for two divers just in case… so we were covered. We later heard that another dive student had to go purchase weights at a nearby dive shop for their dive. Curiously, looking towards the parking lot, we saw that the instructor’s truck had two plastic crates full weights, ready to use…

Weights in hand, my girlfriend and I finished assembling our dive gear. I looked over her set-up, satisfied it was done safely and properly, then left for the restroom. While away, the young Instructor came over to my girlfriend and stared at her SCUBA gear, followed by saying “When was the last time THAT regulator saw water?” Apparently uninterested in her response, he walked away as she offered an answer, and her confidence was clearly shaken. Later, wondering why he would say this, it occurred to me that the regulator she was using was one of mine, and not rented from their dive store.

As soon as I returned from the restroom, my girlfriend asked me to ‘Just be nice so I can get my certification.’ I promised her I would, and decided that I would shadow her from a distance. I hoped the instructors would take her under their wing and that giving distance would relieve whatever stress my presence was apparently bringing to them. After waiting about 30 minutes, it was noticed by us and other students that no directions were issued on what was happening next… or at all for that matter. After 45 minutes, one of the instructors told everyone to gear up and get ready for the first dive. Everyone in the class complied, including my girlfriend and I. All of the students were very eager to get in the water and see explore the Breakwater.

DiveLog 252x300 Tragedy at the Breakwater: A checkout dive goes wrongA SURPRISING NEW LESSON
After everyone was suited, the instructor returned and told everyone to get into the tent for a class on dive logging. The class was (in my opinion) unnecessary and untimely. Why did they not teach this during the classroom sessions, or at least before everyone had geared up? Being fully suited, my girlfriend began overheating and felt choked during the 45 minute session, which generated more pre-dive stress. No doubt, others in the class felt the same.

After the dive log class, an instructor told everyone to again completely suit up with all of their dive equipment for the first SCUBA dive. Everyone suited up (including my girlfriend and I), and marched down the concrete steps to the beach and then halted. The older instructor announced another training session was to commence. This surprise new class: Beach Entry. He told the class to ‘take a seat on the steps’. My girlfriend nearly fell down when trying to sit in all of her heavy SCUBA gear and landed very heavily on the sand-covered steps next to the beach. Other divers endangered themselves as they walked between the students blocking the entire stair landing. During the class (and unknown to her or I) her primary second stage regulator was ground into the sand behind her SCUBA tank, packing sand in it.

Finally, the order to stand up and enter the water was issued by the older instructor. After giving the order to the group, he turned to me, in front of the entire class, and loudly orders me, in no uncertain terms, that I am to stay away from my girlfriend and stick with one of his Assistant Instructors. I complied. A look over at her showed that she was beginning to experience an ever-increasing amount of stress. I could see and feel how she felt alone and vulnerable.

Following through with my agreement to keep my distance, I held off from making my entry in order to watch her enter the water. With her full wetsuit on (for the first time) she had the new experience of greatly reduced dexterity, and noticeably struggled to put her fins on in the water. The older instructor seemed to become inpatient with her very quickly, and within seconds began shouting at her at close range “FOUR!” “FOUR!” “FOUR!” “MAKE A NUMBER FOUR!!!” After 3 attempts, she was able to get her fins on. She later revealed to me that this experience caused her a tremendous amount of stress and embarrassment in front of her class. By this time, the anticipation and excitement of going on her first dive was replaced with stress and fear, but she was committed to completing her dives and earning her certification as an open water diver. While swimming out, I swam closer to her to give her some assurance. I could clearly see in her face that she was stressed and no that joy was present. Moments later, the older instructor very loudly and sarcastically issued a ‘laughing challenge’ and demanded that I “Stay away from HER!!!”

I swam over to my assigned buddy and stayed close to him, as ordered. The entire SCUBA class swam out towards the older instructor, and once past the surf zone he announced yet another surprise class: ‘Kelp Crawling.’ One at a time, each student was told to swim-crawl over a raft of kelp. My girlfriend and the other students did this exercise well. Just then a beautiful sea otter crawled onto an inner-tube diver float and began to groom. Knowing my girlfriend had never seen this (and seeing that the instructors were focused on the students still performing Kelp Crawls) I called her attention to the Sea Otter. My girlfriend finally smiled again and showed interest not fear. Just then the older instructor shouted “HEY! The class is over here. Stop watching the Sea Otter and look at me!” He then turned his back on the class and went back to watching the students doing the Kelp Crawl exercise. Shortly after this, my ‘buddy’ dove to bottom of the float line to prep for the descent-arrival of students. I told my girlfriend I loved her and followed ‘my buddy’ down the line.

On the surface, my girlfriend was approached by the older instructor and asked if she was ready to descend the line to the bottom. She said ‘yes’ and, as asked, began her descent. She raised her BCD exhaust valve with her left hand and dumped air as instructed until she descended freely and slowly. When her left hand was about two-to-three feet underwater (placing her lungs at a depth of five-or-six feet deep), the older instructor grabbed her left hand and dragged her quickly back to the surface and reinflated her BCD. In a raised voice, he told her she was “doing it wrong” and that she has depressing her AIR-2 purge valve instead of her BCD exhaust valve. She asked to verify which button to push and he showed her… the exact same button she was pushing (hence the fact she descended in the first place). She was told to try again. The exact same thing happened again.

DescendingMonterey1 Tragedy at the Breakwater: A checkout dive goes wrong

Then again a third time.

After the third interaction, she asked more precisely what she was doing wrong exactly and he responded with “This is what happens when SOMEBODY “HELPS” you!” It was then my girlfriend realized this was probably a form of disciplinary harassment because I was with her. It appeared that my girlfriend was being punished when I could not see it. Her fourth descent was identical to the previous three and the older instructor gives her an ‘OK’ sign that she did it right. She then descended on to the bottom.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: My girlfriend’s lungs were at approximately 5 to 6 feet each time the older instructor grabbed her left hand and ‘yanked’ her to the surface (three times). This is within one foot of the danger zone for potentially lethal A.G.E. of seven feet and is a serious safety risk.)

THE STAGE IS SET FOR FAILURE
My girlfriend later explained to me that as she descended to the sea floor, she felt she was not wanted by the instructors, and that she was being punished by them rather than supported and trained. The applied stress and mindset she experienced is obviously not a safe emotional substrate for life-support skills testing in any environment. The water the student were training in was less than ideal, at approximately 57 degrees in temperature with less than 2 meters visibility at a depth of 26-27 fsw. After she arrived at the bottom of the instruction line at 26-27 fsw, I saw her once again. She moved to the training line, and patiently waited for the younger instructor to arrive. So I would not distract her, I stayed behind her, out of her direct sight, at about 1.5 meters. During her hazing at the surface with the older instructor, My Girlfriend’s regulator (which unknown to anyone was laden with sand) became increasingly flooded with the suspended sand. As she arrived on the bottom, the sand began to collect under the exhaust diaphragm, allowing a small amount of water to enter her regulator during inspiration, adding to her already high level stress. She was not taught the (easy) maneuver of how to clear her sandy regulator by flooding and purging.

PANIC SETS IN
Even with a leaking regulator, my girlfriend successfully performed the partially flooded mask clearing for the younger instructor. I maintained my position behind her, where I could partially observe the exercises without interfering and without distracting her. During full mask flood & clear exercise, she experienced difficulty when she felt like she could not get a water-free breath. This was due to the combination of her mask being half-full of seawater and the sand in the regulator exhaust valve allowing a spray of seawater with each inhalation. The younger instructor did not offer his regulator to avert her obvious stress of clearing. She began to panic from not getting a breath, so she reached for her octopus. Her instructor grabbed her hand to prevent this, and forced her to retry the exercise with her primary regulator. With no regulator in her mouth, my girlfriend’s stress skyrocketed, and panic was just moments away.

Seeing the problem from a distance, I moved in closer in case I needed to help. Upon my approach, the instructor pushed me away. I thought to myself, “I will allow five more seconds for the instructor to resolve this, then I’m taking over.”

TIME TO INTERVENE
At this time, my girlfriend began to choke and panic, pushed off the bottom and, with her regulator out of her mouth, screamed (blowing huge bubbles) and clawed for the surface. Unexpectedly, her instructor grabbed her left shoulder harness and held her on the bottom while forcefully shoving her primary regulator hard at her mouth. This motion resulted in striking her hard on her right cheek, missing her mouth completely. This shocked her further, and completely out of breath, caused my girlfriend to literally inhale water on her next ‘breath’. I actually saw her suck-inhale water when the tiny suspended debris in the water (around all of us) sharply moved into her mouth. The horrifying reality was she may have just experienced her death blow that instant.

Seeing that the instructor had completely lost control and that my girlfriend had just inhaled a ‘breath’ of water, I quickly moved in and shoved the instructor off my girlfriend, grabbed her, and attempted to ascend. Not making progress towards the surface, I thought I must have had kelp wrapped on my SCUBA tank, so I kicked harder. Then my heel touched something solid and I realized the instructor was holding ME DOWN by grabbing my SCUBA tank! I kicked him off and rushed her to the surface.

The second we broke the surface I heard her gurgle and throw-up. She then made the effort to breathe, but all I heard was a horrible and distinct gurgle upon inhaling. Her first breath was used to beg me in a tiny pathetic but heart-wrenching plea “please save me Scott, “please save me,
“please save me”. Each syllable was joined by horrible deadly gurgles.

The woman I loved was begging for her life.

MontereyBreakwater IMG 5246 Tragedy at the Breakwater: A checkout dive goes wrong

Incredibly, her Instructor surfaced and shoved me away from her, then began to yell at her to get her attention so he can continue her training!!! I realize he is oblivious to the grave nature of the situation due to inexperience, bad judgment, impatience or just ego and machismo. At this point, my experience in this exact injury (multiple times) over the years tells me that my girlfriend will die within minutes if she does not get advanced medical help… every second is precious to her survival. She was throwing up and coughing up seawater with a horrible and distinct gurgle upon inhaling. Her yells for me to save her were reduced to a feeble whispering gurgle I will never forget. The woman I love, was going to die within a few minutes if she did not get to shore and a hospital NOW. My two seconds of disbelief dissipated and I clicked into action. With my wetsuit-gloved hand, I slapped the Instructor upside the head to get his attention, then as he turned his head to see what happened, I pulled off his mask and punched him (with low-intensity) in the nose twice to shock him off my girlfriend so I could save her life.

To further stop the young Instructor’s ignorant and deadly actions, I yelled at him “You assaulted her you Son of a Bitch and I will shut you down if you touch her!!! … I will shut you down if you do ANYTHING more!” The second he released her, I instantly grabbed her, rolled her on her back, then to her side to let her drain & throw up seawater without letting her face hit the water again. I madly swam and towed her towards shore.

Nearing shore, I yelled at the top of my lungs (several times) for someone to “call 911” and that this was a “Diver Emergency”. Thank God I heard someone yell back “OK!”.  As I pulled her to shore, my emotions surfaced for a second and I told her “PLEASE BREATHE BABY!!! PLEASE DONT DIE BABY! BREATHE BABY, C’MOM BABY BREATHE”. Almost instantly I heard her Instructor rudely and sarcastically say “She is NOT going to die” followed but under-the-breath “dip-shit” .

Not only was he following me against my wishes, and even though he could easily hear her pleas and gurgles with each horribly labored breath, he was still oblivious that she was facing death and continued to taunt me. I ignored him and began to shed her weights. The instructor approached us yet again (I think to help release her gear or weights), but based on his previous actions I simply yelled “NO!” As she and I reached the surf-line, about seven wonderful people jumped in and grabbed her to strip the remaining gear off her, then help take her through the surf to shore. They performed perfectly as I struggled to ditch all of my gear and join her, but found my right arm stuck in my straps. This just doesn’t happen to me… I never get stuck in my own gear but it had to happen right then! A diver happened to move up next to me and I asked him for help. He instantly pulled the strap off my trapped right elbow and my gear flung-off. Within 30-40 seconds I was back at her side.

STRANGERS BECOME HEROES
To my tentative relief, there was already oxygen being administered to my girlfriend by a USCG PO3! As my focus broadened, I noticed six other divers were there helping her as well – none were her instructors, none were from her class. They were all perfect strangers. A diver (in full wetsuit) arrived who identified himself as a physician. Then, within a few seconds, a paramedic arrived (also in full wetsuit). Everyone helping my girlfriend on the beach commented on the gurgling and showed the appropriate fear for her life. Less than three minutes later the ambulance arrived, the paramedics asked me her name, loaded her and were off in just moments.

As she was loaded into the ambulance I was told I could not go… I was horrified and crushed but just then a police officer told me he would escort me to the hospital and show me the way. During the ride my girlfriend said the two Medics were wonderful… helping sit her up so she could cough up “cups of seawater” that splashed on her front and floor. My girlfriend was terrified, but remembered their kindness and professionalism. I ran to change out of my dive gear and into my clothes, get my wallet, keys and her purse and ran to the car. The police officer was already next to my car and ready to go!

At CHOMP (Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula), my girlfriend went to the emergency room where she was immediately stripped of the wetsuit (it was cut off) and assessed. Within less than a minute, they determined she was dying from the water in her lungs so they decided to intubate her immediately. I bent over her head and explained what was about to happen and I saw the fragility of her life and fear in her eyes as they teared up. She was not sure if she would ever see me again. The sweetest girl I had ever met… that after 47 years stole my heart for the first time… was dying right in front of me and I was helpless to stop it. I rubbed her feet as the dozen medical professionals fought for her life. She was chemically paralyzed, intubated, and hooked up to life support. The heart wrenching sight of the one you love slipping in and out of a chemically induced coma and attempting to remove her intubation because of the terror of suffocation while strangers hold you down… brings a set of feelings beyond description. I wanted to kill the two Instructors that did this to her… I wanted to die if she did… I wanted to take away all of her pain and fear by enduring it myself. All of this happened in my heart at the same time.

MOVING FROM THE ER TO ICU
In a short time it a lung specialist was called to use a bronchoscope to search inside my girl’s lungs for water. But first, she needed to be moved from the ER to the ICU. My girlfriend’s tubes and lines were transferred to mobile carts and her ventilator was disconnected and a technician began to breathe for her manually with an ‘Ambu-Bag’. I was told I could not be there and to wait in the ICU waiting area.

It took all of my will to force myself comply. Walking to the waiting room and away from her was the LAST thing I wanted to do. The moments of calm allowed the recent events to hit me face-on and realize how bad things were… and the individuals responsible for it… mainly the young SCUBA instructor that held her underwater during her panic. This image and the related HATRED and DREAD will stay with me until my last day of life. I sank down in the hallway against the wall and let it out. In the ICU, my girlfriend was prepped for the Doctor to perform a bronchoscopy and search for seawater, sand and vomit inside her lungs. The doctor was Dr. Karim Tadlaoui and he took the time to tell me exactly what was going to happen and in the conversation he obviously discovered I was very familiar with medicine so he told me I could stay for the procedure at the entrance to the room. I took up my position as they gave my girlfriend more sedative to make certain she did no awake in the middle of the procedure. Then sharply a nurse told me to leave and get to the waiting room. Not wanting a confrontation to distract the doctor I left… walked off, then around the nurse’s station, waited for her to be busy, then, In my typical fashion, I snuck back in just out of the nurse’s sight. Dr. Karim Tadlaoui searched her lungs and found enough seawater to kill her twice over… and promptly suctioned it out of both of her lungs. With great relief, he found no sand or vomit in her lungs. The CHOMP ER/ICU team saved her from drowning but now she faced potential congestive heart failure and pneumonia, both of which could easily end her life. I later learned on the Instructor’s SCUBA dive shop Facebook’s page that at this EXACT MOMENT… the Instructors were celebrating a great dive day with their students, giving hang loose signs and making faces for the cameras… without regard for the terrible fight for life my girlfriend was enduring. The pictures are on my computer as a reminder to the disgusting lack of humanity these two Instructors seem to display proudly.

That night in the ICU things settled into a bad-dream-like setting. Kind and superiorly-skilled nurses constantly adjust, monitor and hurt the one you love but you know it must be done. Arterial lines were attempted and failed, then eventually shoved into my girlfriend’s wrist artery. She was tied down to prevent her from removing the airway tube that was keeping her alive. Pain medications, antibiotics, paralyzing drugs were given to her each minute of the night keeping her in a coma-like state. All I could do was to stroke her hair, her hand and kiss her cheek while she clung to life with a machine breathing for her. I must have told her I loved her a thousand times.

Occasionally, she would awake and hand sign me she needed to write something. I gave her a pen and held a clipboard with paper on it. She tried several times to write a word but just couldn’t. Her frustration was obvious and it brought her to an increase of heart rate, oxygen delivery and it would hurt her throat from her breathing tube moving within her throat. She would collapse and lightly convulse as she faded into unconsciousness. Finally she was able to write a short sentence. Her writing was big at first fading into smaller letters until the pen simply dragged at the end from exhaustion. I studied it and realized what it said: “You… saved me” . The second I read it I looked into her eyes. They were teary and grateful. I moved to her head, held her and cried with her. She passed out from exhaustion and it almost looked like she died. It was a horrifying feeling and only her vital signs on the monitors quickly dispelled the concern. The longest night of my life followed when I watched the girl I love on lifesupport. Each of her breaths were mechanically administered by a 75 pound machine. She was kept in a chemically induced coma. Her vital signs were as low as I had ever seen on a living person. Her blood pressure was a low 64/32 to 78/46 all night. She would occasionally struggle to consciousness and fight her wrist restraints in an effort to remove her breathing tube with expressions of absolute terror. All I could do was hold her hand and kiss her beautiful forehead and whisper to her I was there and that the tube was saving her life. She was fighting with each precious second to get better.

All night, CHOMP’s elite and compassionate nurses would come in and access her condition, lower the oxygen level administered by her mechanical ventilator and check her breathing effort, blood oxygen and blood pressure to see if they could ween her off the machine. Every so often they would take blood samples directly from her artery to check for arterial blood gasses. The process seemed to take forever.

BREATHING ON HER OWN AGAIN
The next morning my girlfriend had improved enough that the doctor decided to test her off the mechanical ventilator. Her coma-inducing drug was reduced enough allowing her to revive enough to tell her what was about to happen. “We want to take out your breathing tube… and you are going to have to relax as best you can and help us.”

With a frightened expression, she nodded ‘yes’. Then the nurse injected more coma-inducing drugs placing her on the threshold of unconsciousness. The respiratory tech moved up and readied suction hoses, oxygen mask and a tray of instruments in case something went wrong.

“OK sweetheart,… here we go!” The nurse deflated the tiny cuff on the end of the breathing tube deep inside my girlfriend’s tracheae and gently but quickly pulled it out. My girlfriend coughed and gagged but did not throw up… then took her first clear breath in over 24 hours. The most beautiful sight of my life was seeing her breathing on her own and smile at me albeit so exhausted she could barely keep her head up. I kept strong for her, kissed her face (now finally free of tubes) and told her how much I loved her and how proud I was of her strength through all of this. I fed her ice chips for 30 minutes, then the nurse approved water so I gave her a drink. Within two hours she was able to try food. I haven’t fed anyone since spoon feeding my children nearly 30 years ago but I must say… the joy of giving my girlfriend a bite of Asian chicken salad was overwhelming! My baby was going to be OK.

As night fell she became tired and drifted off to sleep in a much more normal way. Shortly afterwards she woke up crying and gagging from a terrible nightmare. It was her young instructor holding her underwater while she fought for her life.

That night and each night since has been full of this same nightmare. She later told me that while in a coma she could hear everything that was said around her and was aware of each mechanical breath. She felt like she was suffocating constantly and that it was worse than the drowning… but paralyzed… she could not scream for help. She was imprisoned and tortured. She said my constantly telling her how much I loved her and my updates on her condition helped her through her coma-hell. Monday morning arrived and my girlfriend looked well enough to try and stand. They removed more IVs, catheters and ECG leads, then helped her up. My girl was standing and it felt like a huge victory over this terrible event. Shortly afterwards she was helped up and supervised by a nurse as she was allowed (and encouraged) to walk around the ICU carting her multiple IVs on a stand with wheels on it. I walked next to her beaming with pride over her strength.

After another hour, ICU physician Dr. Koostra said if she feels strong enough she can go home. My girlfriend did not hesitate! YES!!! Dr. Koostra agreed and departed to write her release orders for home care recovery. One of her nurses, Sarah, arranged for her to take a shower in another ward. While she was waiting for the water to turn warm, one of the ER nurses that worked to save her life walked by and was shocked to see her looking so good so fast. My girlfriend told her ‘Thank You’ for saving her life. The nurse was touched by her kindness and they hugged and cried together.

The ER Nurse said that the ER staff were calling her the ‘Miracle Girl’ because of her amazing survival and recovery! She has told that most people with this level of injury do not live. They die within hours. The wept together again in a warm hug… exchanged sweet glances and smiles and parted ways. My girlfriend felt alive… stunned… and afraid of how just how close it really was.

RETURNING HOME
I was given the most beautiful Christmas gift ever when I was allowed to take my Miracle Girl home that afternoon.

The drive home was very emotional for her. She was in physical pain from all of the IVs, arterial lines, injections in her abdomen, her voice raspy from intubation, bruises from the life saving actions on the beach, painful breaths, etc. But the realization that she was so extremely close to death… because of two Instructors actions. These two people, instructors that were responsible for her safety… so completely failed her… was horrifying. After the 3 hour drive home I helped her inside. With her kids and mother continuously holding her while weeping emotions justifiably ran high! Afterwards she collapsed into her own bed with exhaustion. My girlfriend is in the best spirits she can muster but has day-mares and nightmares of being held underwater and suffocated. She trembles, she cries, she thanks everyone that saved her and she fears her instructors. When I began to write this article she became so terrified that these two Instructors would further hurt her I had to omit her name to put her at ease.

I have seen such things from combat trauma but never in a civilian. But this is the woman I love and my best friend. All I want is for her to be alive, see friends, and feel the air, hear birds, laugh and pet her animals and hug her kids. I want her to heal but the emotional damage will probably last for many years to come if not the rest of her life.

She suffers from memory loss, depression and a deep fear of the water. Just two weeks before she was assaulted by these two Instructors, we were in Quintana Roo during my latest expedition and she and I went on a discover SCUBA dive with my friend (and fine instructor) Marcos of Dive Balam in a cenote and for nearly an hour and she did wonderful. As I filmed her, she was happy, inquisitive and comfortable for the entire dive. She was not afraid of diving… she was assaulted into being afraid of water and has expressed terror of diving. I can only imagine how horrifying her daily dreams of drowning and suffocation must be.

CONCLUSION

SCUBA Diving is a dangerous activity. I have 14,000 hours underwater and consider myself a student of life and the sea. No one can learn enough. For 35 years I have watched good instructors next to poor or even unsafe instructors side by side. I’ve worried that an inexperienced person may not be able to tell the two apart. My advice to prospective SCUBA Students is to ask around and get word of mouth from trusted people about whom to go to for SCUBA instruction.

We are all just animals bound to the same mortality as any other creature… but we also have the same attributes if we decide to use them. I am speaking of instinct. If a little voice is telling you something about your instructor… LISTEN! Bail on instructors that behave like these two Instructors did. Do not proceed! When you enter the sea (or lake, etc.) you need your intact instincts more than ever… so I highly recommend you learn to honor them.

If at any time during an open-water SCUBA instruction dive you feel like you have a problem beyond your training and comfort level… STOP!!! I knew these two Instructors (in my opinion) were awful and my instincts were screaming at me but… I followed my girlfriend’s request ‘to be nice’ so she could get through the training because I love her… and she ended up in a coma of life support.

Please… learn from my mistakes. Listen to your instincts and act on them without concern of what others may think. It may safe your life or that of someone you love.

Dive safe.

- Scott Cassell

Story written by Scott Cassell, independent contributor.

The opinions expressed by the contributor and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of California Diver or any employee therein.  Concerned with a story on our site? Email us here.