MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Investigators in Volusia County are trying to figure out why a man died over the weekend cave diving.
He was diving with his 16 year old son, when decided to do a deeper dive on his own.
CBS4 received the investigative report Wednesday which is giving us some insight into what happened.
Cave diving is quite popular in central and northern Florida, where a majority of these caves are located.
The area this man was diving was quite challenging and it’s clear something went wrong.
For years scuba divers have been drawn to Blue Spring State Park, just North of Orlando. The park’s crystal clear fresh water, combined with gorgeous caverns and caves is inviting.
On Sunday, Rhys Dervan took his 16-year old son diving there. Midway through, his son wanted to stop. Rather than get out, his father continued diving. He planned to go to a 120 foot deep underwater cave.
According to investigators, he did not switch out to a new tank.
About four hours later, Volusia Sheriff’s Department divers recovered his body. Reports show he was found approximately 70-feet deep. He had his flashlight still in the on position. He had dropped his weight belt, typically done to surface in an emergency. His scuba tank was empty.
While the investigation will take time to figure why Dervan ran out of air diving attorney and cave diving instructor Alton Hall has his suspicions.
“I think it’s extremely rare that it just happens. In 30 years of diving, I’m only aware of one incident in which a diver died in a cave without breaking of the primary rules of cave diving,” Hall said.
The five safety rules for cave diving include things like training, using a rope to find your way out, saving two thirds of your tanks to exit, not going too deep and having multiple adequate light sources. Break the rules and the risks go up.
No one keeps an official track of all cave diving fatalities but it’s estimated a little more than a dozen people die nationwide every year.
Hall explained, “The numbers aren’t astronomical or real high. The incident rates per 100,000 dives. So I don’t necessarily think its something that calls for more government intervention.”
The cave diving industry is actually self-regulated. Essentially the responsibility and the risk falls to the diver. It us unclear what certifications this diver had.
CBS4’s David Sutta has inquired with the Department of Environmental Protection, who operates Blue Spring.
Click here to watch David Sutta’s Cave Diving: Beyond The Limit series.