When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Scuba

Drowning_Man_by_JanooshIt could be worse, we suppose. She might not have been a lawyer.

Blaise N. Gamba, an associate in the Tampa office of Carlton Fields, passed away this weekend from injuries sustained in a scuba diving accident. The accident also left her husband, William A. Gamba, in serious but stable condition.

The accident took place in the Gulf of Mexico, and the information released by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office provides a few more details, as Law360 (sub req.) reports:

According to the report, another couple — a man and his wife fishing on their boat — were approached by William, who was driving a 22-foot Sea Fox boat. The couple was informed by William that he and his wife were having a medical emergency on their boat and that she was unconscious, according to officials.

As the individuals boarded William’s boat, help was called and William tried to resuscitate Blaise. Once the paramedics arrived, William lost consciousness due to a medical emergency, according to authorities.

“Deputies believe the injuries were related to a diving accident,” the report stated. “Diving equipment was located on William’s boat and both William and Blaise were wearing wet-suits at the time of the incident.”

The investigation into the accident is ongoing.

Going from conscious and functional to unconsciousness, as the husband did, some time after surfacing could be any of a number of things, but suggests the bends to us. Contrary to popular and film depictions, it’s not always instantaneous or immediate. By the time it sets in, if it’s bad, nothing but recompression will help (and permanent damage may already have been done).

13 thoughts on “When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Scuba

  1. whomever

    “It could be worse, we suppose. She might not have been a lawyer.”

    I like lawyer jokes as much as anyone, but I’m not sure this is the right occasion.

  2. Roger

    Progressive debilitation from the bends after surfacing is actually normal progression of the bends.
    First aid therapy with pure O2 is the only surface treatment short of a recompression chamber.
    Neurological embolism from a severe hit of the bends is quite damaging and not unusually fatal.
    That severe of a hit from a pleasure dive at normal (less than 130 ft) is unusual. Someone had to be working hard to get that much nitrogen saturation. Another possibility is a gas mix high in Helium which is fast in and fast out of the blood. A rapid ascent after a Helium dive is not advisable.

    1. Kirk

      Or, they screwed something up on depth or the time they were down there.

      Hell, even the guys who do this stuff for a living occasionally screw things up. Diving is one of those things that is prone to underestimation, when you look at it. The danger lurks in the background, and if you’re not paying attention to it, death is all too easy to achieve.

      Friend of mine had a really close call, diving on a European-run tour down in the Indian Ocean. He was used to doing all his calcs from US tables and so forth, and didn’t catch that the guide had really screwed up on the bottom time and the decompression required due to the metric system confusing him when he checked the calcs. What saved all their asses was a neophyte diver from Germany (Yay, German anal-retentiveness…) who was running the numbers himself, and said that they didn’t work out, they’d have to spend a bunch more time decompressing at depth, and that they didn’t have enough air to do the dive for the planned bottom time and decomp process. If they had let the guide run things, there would have been some rather severe ugliness, in that someone would have had to go to the surface for more air, or a bunch of people would have either drowned or wound up with severe decompression issues–As in, would have needed a decompression chamber severe.

      It isn’t a hobby that lends itself to casual people, at all.

  3. Loren

    Most rec divers have a hard time getting enough bottom time to get the bends on a single tank. Women seem to use half the air men do.
    This could be 2 different things for these 2 people. Embolism might be one and heart attack another. Not enough info to make even a half ass guess.

  4. 6pounder

    Not much info for sure but you can move through the alphabet on your dive card steadily with a number of shallower dives in one day also.

  5. Kirk

    After observing how many “serious recreational divers” had health issues and who had screwed up on their dive tables, I concluded that this was one hobby I didn’t need.

    There are a lot of things that look really, really cool when you are in your twenties that don’t look so fun, thirty years later, and which bring on regrets for having participated. You have to decide what’s important–Me, I always figured that if I needed to scuba on my way to doing something else, then, yeah… OK, the risk and long-term effects are worth it. However, comma… In and of itself, the “recreational dive” experience wasn’t enough to tip the cost/benefit ratio for me.

    Pragmatism is something you only learn through experience, and the tuition is often steep. I don’t mind doing dangerous shit, but the problem is, I don’t like the idea of doing it just for the sake of itself.

    I guess what I’m getting at is the idea that if you were an oceanographer or a commercial diver, cool beans. The risk and health damage is part of the bargain–But, just to go out and dive for the sake of diving? WTF? I’ve got a friend who did that crap for years, and the rheumatoid arthritis his doctor says was either caused or severely exacerbated by his exposure to nitrogen-related crap is seriously off-putting. The misery the guy goes through cannot possibly be compensated for by the set of memories he took away from diving. His wife was telling me that it go so bad (and, when he was in his late forties/early fifties) that she had to take his guns and hide them, for fear he’d commit suicide. Let us not even get into the prescription drug problem he now has, for pain management…

    1. Quill_&_Blade

      Well said, as usual. I’ve been thinking something similar; was asked to get involved in motorcycle riding. I’ve ridden a couple fairly hot bikes, so I know the feel. I’d say there’s little in the way of motion that compares to that experience of gliding so fast and powerfully over roads and scenery that would otherwise be seen from the inside of a truck. But you know, 10 minutes of that, and the thrill starts to wane. I’d rather design or build something that’s challenging and serves people for awhile….We did it! It’s there, it wasn’t there before, yay, etc, etc.

    2. John Distai

      There is a local guy who runs a diving school from his home. His house is in obvious disrepair (like I should talk), with his gutters rotting and falling off. Could he be suffering those “long term effects” that you stated, or just wholly uninterested in home maintenance?

      (I really wish his students would park in his yard rather than choke off the street…but it’s a minor inconvenience.)

  6. S

    Way off topic, but hopefully useful; I just finished watching “The Best Years of Their Lives”. A 1946 drama about the difficulties of three returned veterans. Nothing about weapons, though the scars left by them are not so deep or painful as those upon the soul and spirit. A worthy film for a matinee, in my opinion.

    1. Hognose Post author

      That’s a fantastic movie, multiple Oscar winner, IIRC. The actor without the arms lived near our summer house when I was growing up. He actually lost his arms in a kitchen fire during the war, he was a cook in the military. I seem to think that was the only movie he was ever in, and he had one of those little statues!

      1. dragon6actual

        IIRC, he sold his Oscar to fund his wife’s medical bills. The Oscar committee had a cow over that, and took steps to ensure that it could not happen again.

        Agreed though – great movie.

  7. Y.

    I guess it’s true what I’ve heard – that it’s easier to kill yourself with scuba diving than with freediving.

    You can’t get bends from it, and it’s mostly about learning how to breathe properly and to tolerate CO2 build-up in blood.

    Bends are a possibility, but only in people who are seriously over-doing it. (pearl divers working for many hours per day, for example)

  8. Cap'n Mike

    A quick look at the chart shows that 5 miles out from Madeira Beach, the water is relatively shallow.
    Maybe 35 feet max?
    Tough to get bent at that depth, but anything is possible, especially if you don’t make a safety stop at 15 feet.
    I have seen guys blow out eardrums at 40 feet, buy bouncing up and down too quick, trying to establish correct buoyancy.
    Maybe they bounced up and down a bunch or maybe they both got bad fills.

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