Times Colonist

Visiting diver ran out of air, vanished

‘Horrible accident’ at Race Rocks

- KATIE DeROSA kderosa@timescolon­ist.com

Timothy Chu, diving at Race Rocks, ran out of air and tried but failed to latch onto his dive master’s secondary air source. The two then drifted apart and Chu disappeare­d.

Chu, a 27-year-old British police officer who was visiting Victoria, was on a recreation­al dive on July 5, 2015, at the marine ecological reserve near Juan de Fuca Strait.

Erin Bradley, owner of the Ogden Point Dive Centre, which organized the dive, has provided this account of what happened to Chu, offering the details publicly for the first time. “He ran out of air as they were making their way back to the surface,” Bradley said.

Without air, Chu was unable to gain buoyancy to float to the surface. Chu swam over to share air from the dive master’s secondary air source. It’s not clear why Chu ran out of air.

“When he approached the dive master, he had his regulator out of his mouth and he was trying to grasp for the dive master’s regulator,” Bradley said. “The dive master was caught in the kelp, so he couldn’t get to him, and Timothy was drifting away without his regulator in his mouth.”

Chu’s family expressed concern that his dive was scheduled at the height of an ebb tide of 5.6 knots and that he was accompanie­d by a dive master who had only once before gone diving at that spot.

Bradley said conditions were not dangerous and other divers out the same day encountere­d no problems.

Chu had his advanced open-water diver certificat­ion and experience diving in cold water. “He was fully capable of doing those sites,” Bradley said.

The dive centre has provided the informatio­n to the B.C. Coroners Service and the RCMP.

“It was just a horrible accident, and we’re so sympatheti­c for the family,” Bradley said.

“Unfortunat­ely, I don’t think they’re having anyone come forward and tell them what happened. And I’m sure they’re emotional and it’s hard to accept.”

The family is calling for a coroner’s inquest to examine the “systematic breakdown” leading to Chu’s death.

“At stake is not just the global image of British Columbia’s tourism industry, but also the public concern about whether this government will take appropriat­e measures to mitigate similar preventabl­e deaths and the related $1-million-plus cost per search and rescue to taxpayers,” the family said in a statement.

The family also wants to see better regulation­s for the diving industry in B.C., similar to regulation­s in Quebec and Australia.

The coroner’s office is continuing its investigat­ion into Chu’s death, and the chief coroner has not made a decision on whether to hold an inquest, said coroner Barb McLintock. According to the Coroners Act, inquests can be called if “the death resulted from a dangerous practice or circumstan­ce” and similar deaths could be prevented.

McLintock said investigat­ions into diving deaths can take longer because of technical informatio­n that must be gathered, including expert informatio­n from the Canadian Coast Guard.

Chu’s disappeara­nce sparked a massive search from the air and on the water. His body was found seven weeks later by a fisherman, who spotted it off a buoy near Race Rocks.

 ??  ?? Timothy Chu, 27
Timothy Chu, 27

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