A coroner has ruled that a British student who drowned on the Great Barrier Reef while scuba diving for the first time ‘was not given adequate training’.
Bethany Farrell, who was 23 and from Colchester in Essex, lost her life off the coast of Queensland in Australia.
Bethany had become separated from her diving instructor but ‘had not been given appropriate supervision,’ Coroner David O’Connell at Queensland Coroners’ Court said, according to the BBC. He also ‘criticised “serious shortcomings” in how the dive was conducted.’
Farrell, who was a University of Southampton graduate and had studied English and media, died in February 2015 at Blue Pearl Bay in the Whitsunday Islands, just six days after arriving in Queensland for her gap year.
While around 23ft (7m) underwater, Farrell had become separated from diving instructor Fiona McTavish, an inquest in Australia found.
The court heard that the diving instructor had briefly ‘turned away from the group of beginners to negotiate some coral in poor visibility conditions.’
According to the report, novice diver Farrell panicked and reached the surface for approximately 40 seconds, but wasn’t able to stay afloat. Witnesses said they heard her call out and ‘wave her arms in distress’, but the skipper conducting the surface watch did not see Farrell.
An hour later her body was discovered on the seabed.
Coroner David O’Connell said there was “no suggestion that any introductory diver was properly instructed about achieving and maintaining positive buoyancy on the surface”.
O’Connell also made 12 recommendations for the diving industry following the three-day inquest into the death of Bethany Farrell.
These suggestions included improved training for divers before they enter open water, and that divers should always be within arm’s length of their instructor.
Image: Stock image of Whitsundays