United States Underwater Fatality Statistics - 1972

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Title: United States Underwater Fatality Statistics - 1972
Author: Schenck Jr, HV; McAniff, JJ
Abstract: Information is summarized on known underwater fatal accidents during 1972 that involved U.S. citizens wherever they may have been diving and non U.S. citizens diving in U.S. waters. Information for 1970 and 1971 accidents is included for comparison. There were 118 scuba diving fatalities and 16 skin diver fatalities during 1972. These deaths are reported and tabulated separately because it's difficult to obtain information on skin diving fatalities that is as complete as on scuba deaths. In addition there were two scuba deaths associated with a compressed air depth record attempt, two deaths involving the use of surface-supplied air, and one fatality caused by an exploding air cylinder in a compressor room. These fatalities are also treated separately because of their "special nature." A small submersible was involved in two deaths that are not included because they have been extensively investigated elsewhere. In comparison there were 112 scuba diving fatalities in 1970 and 114 in 1971, but two factors must be considered: First, major recreational diver training organizations again reported a significant increase in training, from about 165,000 persons in 1971 to about 226,000 in 1972. (The actual numbers may be somewhat less because of individuals' being certified by more than one organization.) Secondly, there would have been a modest decrease in the absolute total of deaths between 1971 and 1972 if it were not for a sudden increase in multiple-victim accidents (two triple deaths and nine double deaths in 1972 as compared with four double deaths in 1971). With some minor fluctuations, patterns remained relatively consistent from year to year, for instance with the 16- to 30-year age group suffering the greatest number of fatalities. Initial reports of fatal accidents are usually obtained from a newspaper clipping service. They are also obtained from the Coast Guard, local coroners and law enforcement officials, cooperating diver organizations, and individuals. Additional information to document the accident as fully as possible is obtained by mail and telephone. Data on commercial underwater fatalities are more difficult to obtain because of limited press coverage and because of insurance investigations, possible litigation, and similar factors that limit the release of information. Also provided are the findings of a Navy submarine medical expert who reviewed autopsies for 31 fatalities which occurred during 1970. Nonfatal accidents to which Coast Guard units responded are also analyzed.
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/9238
Date: 1973

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  • National Underwater Accident Data Center
    This is a collection of the National Underwater Accident Data Center, University of Rhode Island (URI) annual diving reports. John J. McAniff started collection of diving accident and fatality information in 1970.

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