This is a reprint of an article that appeared in SOURCES
(Mar/Apr. 1990, p. 53), extracted from the author's post to
the Rec.SCUBA UseNet.. This material is copyrighted and all
rights are retained by the author. This material is made available
as a service to the diving community by the author and may be
distributed for any non-commercial or Not-For-Profit use.
I met Dan at a meeting of a university science fiction discussion
group. I was in graduate school at the time. Even though he
was older than I, he was still an undergraduate. We became friends.
When he became a scuba instructor, I was in his first class
and my C-card was the first that he ever signed. We became dive
buddies and shared many hours underwater. I learned my passion
for diving from him.
You must understand that my becoming a scuba diver was not
an easy thing. When I was four years old my mother threw me
into an irrigation ditch to frighten me. Her intend was to scare
me so that I would not play near the water. She was, after all,
concerned for my safety. Instead, she taught me terror; for
more than thirty years I had nightmares about the shining layer
of water, the pull of the current, and the inability to breathe
in that cold dark water. Dan knew of my problem and convinced
me that learning to scuba dive would help me conquer my fears.
I barely passed the swim qualifier. (Later, I learned that the
reason swimming had been so exhausting was because I was too
terrified to breathe... I could only swim until I had reached
the limit of my anaerobic capacity.) Dan worked with me and
taught me to dive. He was a gifted and patient instructor.
Eventually my nightmares ended. For me, obtaining that first
C-card was more difficult than getting my doctorate in biochemistry.
Dan developed a problem. He became 60 pounds overweight. He
smoked 4 packs of cigarettes a day. He got no real exercise.
He lived on strong coffee, fast food burgers and doughnuts.
His father had died of a heart attack. I used to kid him about
being a "heart attack, waiting to happen." He would tell me
that he was an ex-marine and he would therefore die from a bullet
wound. He added, of course, that the bullet would come from
an irate husband.
Dan had his first heart attack while helping others teach
a non-NAUI advanced scuba class in intense current. The group
had come to shore and had noticed that Dan was missing. No one
was concerned because Dan was very skilled in the water and
everyone knew that nothing could ever happen to him. (In the
hospital, later, Dan recalled that he was paralyzed from the
waist down and that he had reached the surface by pulling himself
hand-over- hand along the cable that had been laid to assist
divers in moving against the intense current. It had been a
superhuman effort.) Upon reaching the shore, Dan had collapsed.
Dan was helping teach for a non-NAUI group that did not, at
that time, require its instructors to have first aid, CPR, lifesaving
or dive rescue training. (As a matter of fact, I had often
heard the instructor on site tell students not to bother with
CPR because it would never be needed in diving. You see, diving
accidents are rare.) Dan was the only instructor on site with
CPR training. This group did not carry oxygen and did not, at
that time, believe in emergency preparations. There was no emergency
action plan. My friend was ten minutes from a hospital. Yet,
he lay on the beach for more than 50 minutes, bathed in his
own excrement because no one knew how to get help! Eventually,
some other divers realized what was happening and they gave
my friend oxygen while he drifted in and out of consciousness.
Their C.B. radio was used to call for assistance. Eventually
Dan made it to an emergency room.
In the hospital, he regained consciousness. He asked for a
science fiction book to read. I am told that he wanted the attending
physician to tell those who were on the accident scene (I was
not) that they had passed their rescue unit because he was still
alive. He then asked how long he would be in the hospital. When
he was told that he would be there five weeks, his response
was, "Great, the Belize trip is in six weeks, I can
Eighteen hours later, my friend had his second heart attack
and he died. He was 37 years old.
To those who say that there is no room for excellence; that
mediocrity is acceptable in those who teach your loved ones
to dive, I say, "remember my friend Dan."
To those who say that there is no need for emergency preparations;
that 100& oxygen is not needed on a dive site, I say, "remember
my friend Dan."
To those who say we must remove the "meat" (water skills
and knowledge of dive fundamentals ) from our basic classes
to better "package our sport" so that it is more "marketable",
I say, "remember my friend Dan."
To those who say, "It can never happen to me!" I say, "remember
my friend Dan."
Dan made that trip to Belize. His ashes are scattered on a
Please, remember my friend Dan!
About The Author:
Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D. is a biochemist and scuba
instructor at the University of Michigan. He has authored more
than 100 scuba related articles. His personal dive library (See
Alert Diver, Mar/Apr, 1997, p. 54) is considered by many as
one of the best recreational sources of information in North