I saw the footage of the fatal diving accident of Yuri Lipski. One thing I wonder is what really happened. He doesn’t seem to try to inflate his Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) to get back up.

Did he have a failure ?

Link to the video of his fatal dive, please be warned that this can be disturbing: Yuri Lipski’s Fatal Diving Accident Footage (YouTube).

(I read the comments below the video, they seem to be speculative. I was hoping that there was some source of information I am not aware of or a proper investigation).

  • I don't know this gentleman, and didn't watch the video, but I did some searching and found this question on many forums. People who've watched the videos suggested equipment malfunction, disorientation, illness, poor decisions, even suicide. One said it sounded like he did try to inflate it. A few said an investigation was done but the authorities never released a report to the public. I don't want to write an answer because none of the sources were fact-based. It was obviously a great loss to the diving community. – Sue Sep 14 at 0:27
up vote 7 down vote accepted

It is always difficult commenting on what exactly happened and what was going through someone's mind. And in the end it is speculation.

There is a good chance that he was overloaded and as he descended he started to panic which causes many physical and psychological changes such as perceptual narrowing. All of these leads to you making irrational decisions, like removing your own regulator.

In the end the biggest killer is lack of knowledge and lack of experience. In technical diving we do a lot of planning and research before we dive a new site and we setup a lot of redundancy in our gear so that no single failure causes problems. When we use new equipment we first test things in a pool and shallow dives.

  • 1
    Air and depth don't mix. Narcosis is very real and one relies completely on autonomous reactions through repetitive training -- muscle memory. A diver may be experienced with hundreds of dives, but if you're doing pinnacle diving outside of your personal experience, all bets are off. Have read of many examples where "experienced instructors" have come to grief on a pinnacle dive. Example alternative story: The scuba dive that crushed my spine - bbc.co.uk/news/disability-44568215 – GlennG Sep 19 at 17:06
  • Exactly. Experieced in one thing does not equal experience in another. – AquaAlex Sep 19 at 17:44

The significant part of the Blue Hole is a cave dive — and at significant depth. It may be that he got disoriented due to darkness and nitrogen narcosis and thus did not know where he was.

In cave diving and wreck diving, you’re taught not to use your BCD to bail out unless you absolute know what’s overhead. The reason being it’s very easy to get trapped in an underwater cave or structure or cables with an inflated bcd.

Yuri was a dive instructor so I rule out inexperience [as far as his ability to operate his basic dive equipment; he may have been contextually or situationally inexperienced].

  • 1
    Titles are meaningless and experience in one type of dive is not experience in another. A lot of instructors have only 150 - 300 dives and a lot of their dives are shallow dives. This is not the same as experience with deep dives, experience with heavy gear, experience in the blue hole, etc. I have well over 3000 dives and I am rated as a Master Instructor and Technical Instructor and I still plan every dive and I will not dive a new technical, deep or wreck site without first diving it with an experienced local that knows the site. And I still do courses to learn more from other people. – AquaAlex Sep 13 at 15:19
  • 1
    @AquaAlex thx. I mean inexperienced in the basic operation of his gear, which is what I think the original question intimated. For a beginner, inflating your bcd to bail out is taught as a basic skill, which is why I imagine OP asked the question. – RoboKaren Sep 13 at 17:22

I did a bit more research and Omar Tarek, the man who recovered Yuri’s body had an article in Spiegel.

The article mentions that Omar believes that there were three issues

  • he had too much lead, 12kg apparently

  • his vest burst open, he tried to add air when it was full (rather than dropping his belt)

  • ultimately he probably had oxygen poisoning which usually leads to convulsions and dropping the regulator

Also it is very likely that: - since he was on air, he probably suffered increasingly from narcosis after 30m

http://m.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/the-blue-hole-in-the-red-sea-is-the-deadliest-dive-site-in-the-world-a-844099-2.html

  • That's a very interesting article and quite scary. Taking that as the facts; the diver took a single cylinder with air way beyond any safe limits. Assuming the target was 60 metres; that's in the narked off your head zone -- one would be almost incapable of sensible actions at that depth. Seems the inevitable happened. Technical divers plan the dive and the skills and discipline to dive the plan. Technical divers use appropriate gas types and volumes with special equipment. Technical divers train, hard. Stories like this are the reason for keeping recreational divers shallow. – GlennG Sep 19 at 16:52
  • 1
    Omar's comment that "his vest burst open" is odd. All BCDs and wings have overpressure dumps. That it "burst open" probably means it was faulty or damaged. – GlennG Sep 19 at 16:55

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