Glacier Bay Diving Incident

Image courtesy of the National Parks Service

On August 7, 2019, a UCSC researcher died during a scientific dive in the Torch Bay area of Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. The dive team included five UCSC divers and one United States Geological Survey (USGS) diver. Immediately following the incident, a Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) was assembled with diving safety professionals from UCSC, USGS, the National Park Service, and the UC Office of the President. During the investigation, the SAIT collected evidence, conducted interviews, reviewed documents and interview transcripts, developed timelines, and compiled the information in order to recreate the scene and conditions under which the diving accident occurred. The goal of the SAIT was to gain an understanding of the reasons why the accident happened and to recommend corrective actions to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

After thorough evaluation, the SAIT concluded that the diver was well trained with appropriate experience for the research being conducted. However, a sequence of individually benign factors, when combined, led to an irreversible and devastating outcome. The SAIT concluded that the primary issues appear to have been associated with the configuration of an unfamiliar dry suit and supporting equipment.

 

The full report can be accessed here: Fatal Diving Accident at Torch Bay, Alaska

 

Additional information about the Scientific Diving & Boating Safety Program can be found on their website.

Specific questions can be directed to the UCSC Diving Safety Officer, Steve Clabuesch, at srclabue@ucsc.edu.

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