A Chinese tourist’s first Sea Trek Diving experience turned out to be his last when his helmet filled up with water and left him unconscious.
Police have identified the victim as Jiang Xiaonyu, a 53-year-old male tourist from China. The accident occurred near Hua Khot Beach during a Pattaya Sea Trekking expedition, an underwater diving activity which also called “sea walking”.
Participants wear special weighty helmets which allow them to walk along the seabed gazing at the local flora and fauna without the encumbrance of tanks or other heavy diving gear. Air is supplied via a hose using one of the several methods, often an electrically driven compressor system on a nearby boat.
Mr Jiang booked his tour with one of the 18 local agencies offering sea treks in the area: a company called police merely stated as “Mermaid”. Provincial Police in Mueang Pattaya have been questioning the owner, Vachira Nantagun, 44, who has reportedly been operating his business for the last two years.
The depth of the disastrous trek was supposedly only four metres despite the fact that some dives can be up to 10 metres. However, within the industry, it is known that the maximum depth is less of a function of the system’s ability to provide air supply in case swimmers panic or get into difficulty, they need to be able to come to the surface quickly.
The support boat involved in the incident was allegedly anchored on the north-west side of Koh Lan, around nine kilometres from the mainland in Chon Buri’s Bang Lamung district; and operated by Mr Vachira’s son.
Apparently, water started seeping into Mr Xiaonyu’s helmet and eventually led to his losing consciousness. He was rushed to the Pattaya Memorial Hospital, but doctors were unable to save him.
How and why water managed to enter his helmet is under investigation. The company owner has suggested that Mr Xiaonyu, a non-swimmer, probably became frightened at some time during the trek and shook his head and body so vigorously that water began to leak into his helmet. He claimed that the equipment he uses for the sea walk is of international standard and checked for safety every day.
Nevertheless, police have charged Mr Vachira with suspected negligence and reckless endangerment causing death. Mr Xiaonyu’s relatives were at the local police station the following day to hear the charges being read. If they turn out to be true, Mr Vachira will be legally bound to compensate the family according to section 420 of the Thai Civil Law.
Superintendent of Mueang Pattaya Provincial Police Station Pol Col Apichai Grobped has confirmed that Mr Vachira’s firm has accident insurance indicating that the insurance company will most likely be compensating Mr Xiaonyu relatives directly.
The investigation continues.
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