A DIVER with some 50 years experience died after suffering a heart attack while investigating a wreck off the Yorkshire coast, an inquest heard.
Despite an extensive search involving three lifeboats, an RAF helicopter and numerous small boats, the body of Christopher Baker, 74, of Filey Road, Scarborough, was not found until two weeks later, coroner Michael Oakley was told.
He said it appeared Mr Baker, a retired senior member of staff at RAF Fylingdales, had suffered a heart attack as he descended to the wreck, Constantine, five miles off Scarborough, and then lost consciousness.
His wife, Rosalyn Baker said her husband was meticulous in looking after his diving equipment, but had told her he felt “a bit nervous” about the dive before leaving home last July.
However she said, he added:”I’ll be all right when I get there.”
Dr William Low, a consultant pathologist and expert in diving, told the hearing on Wednesday: “My opinion that exertion associated with the dive (by Mr Baker) resulted in instability of the heart.”
Christopher Robinson, who was in charge of the dive, said some five divers had been taking part.
Anchors had been dropped on the wreck before the dive began.
“The weather was perfect - it was very warm and the sea was flat with good visibility,” he said.
Two of the diving team had immediately followed Mr Baker from the boat but after about 15 to 20 minutes they could find no trace of him.
Thomas Miller, another diver, said: “We had all talked and agreed to stick together”, adding :”Chris had a lot of knowledge of wrecks and their history.”
The divers carried out extensive searches before they were forced to get to the surface.
Clive Ward, a self-employed engineer of Helmsley, said he had carried out a major search when Mr Baker’s body had not been found after two weeks.
He eventually found him off the stern of the wreck, in 27 metres of water.
Mr Ward confirmed to the coroner that he believed Mr Baker had landed on the seabed after suffering his heart attack.
”I only found him after my third or fourth sweep of the area,” he added.
Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, Mr Oakley said: ”He was a very experienced diver. It was a very hot day and he was very hot.
"He had been given assistance in putting on his diving equipment.”