Many in the scuba-diving community are mourning the presumed death of Guy “Doc Deep” Garman, who failed to surface during an attempted world-record dive of 1,200 feet on Saturday off St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The St. Croix physician had a support team, including his son Kip, that followed him to a depth of 200 feet, and watched his descent from there. A more experienced support team followed to 350 feet, to wait for Garman’s return, which was expected 38 minutes after he entered the water.
The team remained underwater for as long as it could, well past the 38 minutes, and tethered extra scuba tanks to a rope anchored to the bottom in case Garman somehow showed up after the support divers had surfaced.
Garman was trying to beat a record held by Ahmed Gabr, who attained 1,090 feet in 2014 in the Red Sea.
SCUBA Tec, a technical scuba-diving school that helped organize the record attempt, and train Garman, posted this statement on Facebook:
“To say that our entire dive crew, especially the Deep Tec Dive Crew that have been training with Doc Deep for, in some cases years, are distraught is a huge understatement.
“This ‘Guy’ had done a tremendous amount of research, interviews with other divers who have set similar records, meticulous planning, and training of his support team. This dive did not end as hoped for but please know that Guy left us doing something that he absolutely loved and cherished.”
Some were critical of the record attempt, and the general glorification of deep-diving pursuits, because of the dangers involved.
Andy Davis, a technical diving instructor, wrote on his blog, “Dr. Garman had previously dove once to a maximum depth of 800 feet. It was an enormous escalation to jump down to 1,200 feet.
“That jump in depth left him under-experienced in his personal tolerances of extreme deep-water hyperbaric physiological reactions, especially High Pressure Neurological Syndrome (HPNS); which is a known killer on previous extreme deep dives, and Compression Arthralgia (the hyperbaric effect that compresses joint cartilages, causing extreme pain and immobility).”
Garman descended solo to 815 feet in April, a mark achieved by only about a dozen divers around the world.
He used a 250-pound anchor to moor a rope to the sea floor at 1,300 feet. He was supposed to mark the rope at 1,200 feet, to prove his accomplishment. Without a body, it’s impossible to determine what went wrong.
In a video uploaded a week before Garman’s record attempt, Kip Garman is on camera expressing how he feels about his father’s record attempt:
“Once I start to think about it I’ll get nervous about it and say, ‘You can say what if about anything.’ There’s a million things that could go wrong on the dive. Worried, excited… anything in between really. But I think if any if anybody’s gonna do it, he’s gonna do it.”
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