Diving accident kills Paul "Benny" Benbow…
Freediving is one helleva game. No tanks, no noise. Just a gutful of air and a kick downwards. It appeals to the strongest and the fittest. Men and gals who can hit a hundred feet on a lungful of air, chasing fish, chasing thrills.
But it’s a game of cat and mouse.
A technique used before a free-dive is to hyperventilate, washing as much carbon dioxide out of your system as you can. The body is such a finely calibrated machine that your urge to breathe is triggered by a build of CO2 in the bloodstream. Hyperventilate and this reflex is reduced. You won’t get that panicked build-up, the screaming of your body to… breathe… now… but you risk a sudden unconsciousness. No warning. No flash. One second you’re kicking, the next you’re not.
When it happens at a depth of five metres of less it’s called a shallow-water blackout. So close to the surface you feel like you can reach out and touch the hull of your boat.
South Australian surfer and skipper of Mentawai charter boat Huey, Paul “Benny” Benbow 36, died in a diving accident while spearfishing near Lances Right two days ago.
Was it a shallow-water blackout? Who knows.
But diving without air at 60 or 100 feet ain’t a joke.
In 2001, the Santa Cruz big-wave surfer and free-diver Jay Moriarity died of a shallow-water blackout in the Maldives (Click here)
… and hundreds before and after.
By all accounts, Benny was a fine surfer and a popular skipper.
Learn about the dangers of shallow-water blackouts here.