Freediver drowns during Dean’s Blue Hole tournament
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Writer
Published: Nov 18, 2013
A visitor to The Bahamas drowned while participating in a diving tournament at Dean's Blue Hole on Long Island yesterday, police said.
Superintendent Lindy Knowles, officer in charge of Long Island, said the man, a 32-year-old resident of New York, United States, lost consciousness shortly after surfacing from a dive.
“He went down about 72 meters (236 feet) and came up, and after about 30 seconds from the dive he just...was unconscious,” Knowles said.
The man was brought to shore and pronounced dead by a local doctor around 1 p.m., police reported.
The tournament, which began on November 9, was scheduled to end tomorrow.
The organizers of the tournament, Vertical Blue, identified the victim as Nicholas Mevoli.
"At the moment, we are all extremely shocked and
saddened and trying to establish what happened," Vertical Blue said in a statement on its website.
“His family has been informed, and all our thoughts and prayers are with them.
“Competition freediving has an enviable safety record, but the sport can never be risk free, something understood by all freedivers.
Knowles did not want to confirm the victim's identify until the family had viewed the body.
He said the victim’s family was not on the island at the time of the incident.
Mevoli’s body was transported to New Providence yesterday.
William Trubridge, an organizer of the event and the current world record holder in the constant no fins (CNF) discipline, said Mevoli was attempting to take that record at the time of the incident.
He said the diving community has been shocked by the incident.
The world record in the CNF discipline is 331 feet.
"This hasn't happened before,” Trubridge said.
“There have been fatalities within some of the other disciplines in free diving where you go down with a sled, but those are no longer part of the free diving organization that we run.
“There have been no fatalities or serious incidents in these competitive disciplines since they started, and literally tens of thousands of dives and many competitions have taken place, and there have been no serious incidents, let alone fatalities."
At least four deaths have been recorded in the last five years at Dean’s Blue Hole, which is known as the world's deepest blue hole.
Last May, a 19-year-old resident of Clarence Town went missing while swimming in the blue hole.
Police said the teenager failed to surface after diving with friends shortly before 4 p.m.
Police spent several days combing the area for the teenager, but were unsuccessful.
In July 2008, two women and a teenage girl drowned in waters near the blue hole during a family outing.