Diver dies in tragic ac­ci­dent

Trapped un­der­wa­ter at Nova Sco­tia Power dam in An­napo­lis Roy­als

Cape Breton Post - - PROVINCE / CANADA - BY HEATHER KILLEN

A diver that be­came trapped un­der­wa­ter at the Nova Sco­tia Power dam near An­napo­lis Royal July 15 has died.

The 39-year-old diver, who is from Dart­mouth, be­came tan­gled in his gear while un­der­wa­ter, An­napo­lis Royal Po­lice Chief Burt McNeil said. Emer­gency per­son­nel were called af­ter los­ing con­tact with the diver.

His re­mains were re­cov­ered mid-af­ter­noon.

McNeil said the man had been work­ing un­der­wa­ter for about an hour and a half when he ran into trou­ble. He was wear­ing some high tech equip­ment at the time, in­clud­ing a video cam­era that was trans­mit­ting to the sur­face, quickly alert­ing the sur­face crew that there was a prob­lem.

An au­topsy is planned for July 16.

“My un­der­stand­ing is that he was down work­ing on the gates and he be­came tan­gled up in some­thing on the gate, and dur­ing that process, they lost voice com­mu­ni­ca­tion with him,” McNeil told re­porters. “The standby diver went down and un­tan­gled him and brought him up. The LifeF­light peo­ple worked on him for about 25 min­utes, but he was pro­nounced de­ceased.”

Res­cuers had to bat­tle the fierce Fundy tides, which was com­ing in as they at­tempted to res­cue the man.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion was turned over the pro­vin­cial Depart­ment of Labour af­ter the man’s body was re­cov­ered. Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety per­son­nel were on the scene late in the day.

“The Depart­ment of Labour is here now and they have taken over,” McNeil said.

“I know they will be look­ing at his reg­u­la­tor, his mask and the com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vice. My job is wait for the ME’s re­port. His re­mains have been taken to Dart­mouth and I’m wait­ing on the ME’s re­port.”

The con­tracted diver was do­ing an in­spec­tion at the An­napo­lis Tidal Plant when the in­ci­dent oc­curred, Nova Sco­tia Power com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager David Ro­den­hiser con­firmed.

The diver was em­ployed by Paul’s Div­ing Ser­vices in Ham­monds Plains. Ac­cord­ing to a pro­file of the com­pany on the fed­eral In­dus­try Canada web­site, the busi­ness is owned by Greg Paul, a cer­ti­fied com­mer­cial diver with more than 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence. They are regularly em­ployed by busi­nesses and lev­els of gov­ern­ment and are out­fit- ted with the latest hard­ware and matched by a strong knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence base, the web­site states.

This type of main­te­nance is rou­tine at the dam, Ro­d­enizer said.

“Un­der­wa­ter div­ing for an­nual main­te­nance is a nor­mal part of busi­ness at a hy­dro site,” Ro­d­enizer said. “Our fo­cus to­day is with the diver. We will be un­der­tak­ing a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the in­ci­dent and will co-op­er­ate with any in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­der­taken by the Depart­ment of Labour.”

Ro­den­hiser con­firmed that the sur­face team lost con­tact with the diver, which prompted a call for help.

The dam, lo­cated on the cause­way in An­napo­lis Royal, is only about 100 me­tres from the An­napo­lis Royal Fire Depart­ment. Fire­fight­ers were quickly at the scene and brought the depart­ment’s res­cue boat. EHS ve­hi­cles were also lo­cated at the scene and LifeF­light ar­rived just be­fore 2:45 p.m., land­ing at the public boat launch site.

Through mu­tual aid, fire de­part­ments in Kentville and Can­ning were called to bring their rope res­cue teams.

McNeil was ini­tially “very hope­ful” that the diver would be res­cued safely.

“This is a res­cue op­er­a­tion,” McNeil said shortly be­fore 3 p.m. “We ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery­body’s help.”

By 3:30 p.m., the Can­ning Fire Depart­ment had been re­leased from the scene. Traf­fic in the area was mov­ing very slowly and was backed up on the western side of the cause­way. By 4 p.m., most of the am­bu­lances at the scene and LifeF­light had also de­parted.

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