Technical Diver Dies Off Koh Tao (Updated)

Posted on 07/21/09 5 Comments

Editor’s note: The story below, while tragic, should not be construed to mean that diving the wreck mentioned in this post is any more dangerous than any other wreck. Properly trained, diving any wreck is safer than riding a bicycle. But, even with good training and conditions, accidents can happen. Some, as events in the case below suggest, are not caused by diving itself but by health factors.

Ted Conner, 45, poses in a photo posted to his Facebook page the day before he set out to dive the Unicorn wreck on which he apparently died this week.

Ted Conner, 45, poses in a photo posted to his Facebook page the day before died after making a technical dive on a wreck in Koh Tao.

Sad news today out of Koh Tao where technical-diving enthusiast Ted Conner died after ascending from a dive on the Unicorn wreck whch had claimed the life of a German diver in 2006.

Conner, Asia-Pacific regional manager for Germany’s URACA Pumpenfabrik GmbH & Co., reportedly died whle on the ascent line after making on open-circuit “build up” dive on the 60 -meter steel freighter that sunk during a powerful typhoon in a suspected insruance scam in 1989.

In a post today to the Scubaboard message forum, Jamie MacLeod of the MV Trident (which was not the company Conner was diving with) said the reason for Conner’s death, for the moment at least, is a mystery.

Ted and his buddy, and two other technical divers were ascending from a trouble free, 44m, dive when at approx 20m, Ted became unresponsive. His buddy immediately took him to the surface where surface support egressed him onto the dive boat.

There was a speedboat nearby that took Ted to Koh Tao and Advanced care, arriving within 25mins of his surfacing. All attempts to revive him were unsucessful.

All gases were correct and in good supply. All equipment working perfectly.

Obviously in a case like this friends and family would like to know the cause, but I’m not sure we ever will.

The Unicorn, just north of Koh Tao’s Mango Bay, has a history of accidents, according to the Thai Wreck Diver website. That site says a number recreational divers — who can dive the parts of the wreck between 34 meters and 40 meters — suffered decompression illnesses after going deeper than they should have. One previous diver did perish on the wreck, however.

Royal Thai Navy divers last year recovered the skeleton of Tomas Casagrande, a German instructor with DJL Diving in Koh Tao who disappeared in February 2006.

Despite the accidents, the Unicorn has been a safe and interesting dive for most of its 20-year history. Koh Tao dive operators stressed that the Unicorn is not dangerous for either recreational or technicla divers if they stay within their training and do not put themselves at risk.

As news of the accident has leaked out, friends and relations have started to leave messages of condolences on the 45-year-old tech divers Facebook page.

“For those of you who didn’t know Ted Conner,” friend and Pattaya-based tech diver Stephen Burton wrote on his own Facebook page, ” he was a considerate guy, an explorer, and a man of great character. I am gutted that he won’t be turning up with all his latest toys and ear-to-ear smile to brighten up the day.”

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