A documentary about the death of a technical diver is slated to premiere at TekDiveUSA in Orlando, Florida this coming April.
High-risk diver and human factors expert Gareth Lock has joined forces with Ashley Bugge to share the story of how her husband Brian died unexpectedly during a dive.
This is the latest move in a long-term campaign by Lock, who is also a published author, to encourage the diving community to embrace personal responsibility in diving, to ensure continuous professional development of diving trainers and to understand that it’s not just technical problems which can crop up in diving. The behavior of all divers and instructors can play a key role in saving or, unfortunately, ending lives.
Brian, who was an officer with the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems department, died on May 20, 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii while off duty on a training dive. He was 35 and Ashley, a diver herself, was weeks away from having their third child.
On the day of the accident, Brian was using a rebreather. Unfortunately, he didn’t turn on his oxygen supply for his rebreather before entering the water, and within minutes, he passed away and sank to the ocean floor. The manufacturer of the equipment wasn’t found to be at fault in his death.
It would be easy to blame Brian for simply not following procedures, but events were more complicated than that.
According to Lock:
“Ashley is the first person I know who has not followed the litigation route. She recognizes that without sharing the story of what happened, others may be injured or die too. She didn’t seek to blame, she sought to learn. She knows Brian made mistakes, as we all do, but the context which led to his death is what needs to be explained if we are to learn from this.
“Telling stories is how people learn, even if those stories are painful and emotional to tell. In diving, the ability to tell context-rich stories which highlight all the mistakes and errors made is really hard, especially when someone is seriously injured or dies.
“I hope this film will provide an example of what can be done when a story can be told, and save lives in the process. This is only the start of a very long journey to improve diving safety by looking at the role human factors in diving incidents.”
“I took part for several reasons. The first was to do whatever I can to ensure that Brian’s name is still heard. When someone dies in a tragedy, people are often sad about it for six months and then it’s over. I want Brian to continue to be relevant in people’s minds, particularly those in the diving community.
“I don’t care if people blame Brian for this death, I care that people don’t get complacent, they don’t get arrogant, that they take personal responsibility for their actions and their equipment. Brian was a good diver and he died. I may never know if telling our story will save a life, yet I believe it can and it will.”
While Ashley avoided diving for many months after her husband’s death, she did get back into the water for filming.
“It was very emotional for me as it was when I took a memorial stone containing some of Brian’s ashes into the ocean to create a living reef. Diving was very important to us as a couple. It probably won’t be such a big part of my life now however I can assure you when I did dive again, I was ten times more stringent around my own behaviour and checking my equipment than I had been before.”
Check out the trailer below.