The lawyer who represented the family of a teenage diver who drowned while attending an advanced open water course in Montana is calling for a criminal investigation into the death.
The parents of 18-year-old Linnea Mills in May 2021 brought a US$12 million (~€9.9 million) negligence lawsuit against her dive instructors as well as PADI.
The lawsuit alleged that Mills’ instructors did not properly equip her with the correct gear so that her drysuit would stay inflated while underwater, or brief her on safety procedures.
The lawsuit also alleged that PADI failed to properly oversee its member businesses.
That case was recently settled out of court, but the terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Despite that settlement, attorney David Concannon is now calling for the criminal investigation into Mills’ death to be re-opened.
Concannon, an avid diver himself, asserts that the US National Park Service’s Investigative Services Bureau botched its investigation into Mills’ death, particularly in the chain of custody surrounding her dive equipment. He told Divernet:
“If the feds cared – and they don’t seem to be too interested – they could follow the chain of custody of the dive-computer and charge all who were involved in removing it from the scene and taking it out of state for two years, instead of turning it over to the investigators. In fact, in a case involving a divemaster in the Florida Keys, charges were brought against the [divemaster] for taking a dive-computer and not handing it over to the sheriff.”
Check out the Missoula Current’s summary of the original lawsuit here.
Also, check out a paper Concannon wrote in 2010 about the legal issues associated with diving fatalities.
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