Bride-to-be in Pacific dive tragedy

Martin Slack

A CORONER yesterday warned divers to be aware of the risks of taking part in the sport in remote locations after a bride-to-be died in a diving accident a week before her wedding.

Jayne Bloom, 38, was due to marry fianc Jeffrey Keep during their diving holiday to the Truuk Lagoon in the Federated States of Micronesia, in the South Pacific, in June 2008.

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But Miss Bloom, an IT consultant, became seriously ill after a 43-minute dive to a wreck which was around 50 metres below the surface on June 29. She died the following day.

An inquest into her death at Doncaster Coroner’s Court heard that the experienced and qualified diver complained of losing her sight shortly after getting back on to the boat and quickly became unconscious.

She was taken back to the shore and to a decompression chamber but was subsequently taken to a local hospital when nobody could be found to man the chamber.

Mr Keep told the inquest it took around two hours from Miss Bloom falling ill to arriving at the hospital.

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He said the facilities at the hospital were lacking, it was dirty and doctors did not seem to be qualified to deal with such a serious incident.

Talking about the couple’s ascent to the surface together after the dive, Mr Keep said: he said: “There was nothing unusual, that’s why I can’t understand it. You can tell in the eyes of a diver if there was something bothering them.

“There was no stress in her eyes, no fiddling with her kit as though there was a sign of a problem.”

Miss Bloom was treated at the hospital before being taken back to the decompression chamber, where she spent eight hours, before returning to hospital, where she died a short time later on June 30.

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Recording a verdict of accidental death, Doncaster’s deputy Coroner Fred Curtis said: “It is unfortunate that the best of the facilities were not available.”

He added: “Although this death was entirely unexpected, I do think that those who go to these remote parts want to consider very carefully what kind of support there will be in incidents such as this.

“I hear of the hospital which was not well-equipped and a hospital not particularly clean. I have no power to do anything about that from this distance, but those who go diving, and indeed do other sports of a potentially risky nature, should be aware.”

Mr Curtis said Miss Bloom, who was originally from Doncaster, but lived in Reddish, near Stockport, died from a lack of oxygen to the brain as a result of scuba diving.

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The inquest heard that Miss Bloom and Mr Keep had each checked their own diving kits and each other’s on the morning of the dive.

Investigations carried out after Miss Bloom’s death showed that the equipment was well-maintained and in good working order.

Mr Curtis said Miss Bloom’s diving records showed that she went above a “safety level” into shallower water a total of 11 times during her ascent, which an expert told the inquest could cause problems with decompression illness.

The coroner said: “It seems to me there was a deliberate course of action undertaken by Jayne, she had been diving previously at this kind of depth, she was very experienced, but she must have known there was a risk.

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“But what happened was totally unexpected and must have come as a great shock to Mr Keep and all those who were around her at the time,” Mr Curtis said.

“Sadly this lack of oxygen to the brain as a result of developments in the ascent from this dive of 47 metres in the ocean.”

Miss Bloom met Mr Keep when he was her diving instructor in Stockport.

Their wedding was due to take place later in the holiday.

The Federated States of Micronesia lie between Japan and Australia and have some of the best dive sites in the world.

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