Essex

Scuba diving death: Bethany Farrell given 'inadequate training'

Bethany Farrell, pictured at her graduation from Southampton University. Image copyright Caron Farrell
Image caption Bethany Farrell drowned after graduating from the University of Southampton

A British student who drowned on the Great Barrier Reef during her first ever scuba dive was not given adequate training, a coroner has said.

University graduate Bethany Farrell, 23, of Colchester, Essex, died off the coast of Queensland after becoming separated from her diving instructor.

Coroner David O'Connell, at Queensland Coroners' Court, said Ms Farrell had not been given appropriate supervision.

He criticised "serious shortcomings" in how the dive was conducted.

The University of Southampton English and media graduate died at Blue Pearl Bay in the Whitsunday Islands in February 2015, six days after arriving in Queensland for a gap year.

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An inquest in Australia found that while approximately 23ft (7m) underwater, she became separated from her diving instructor, Fiona McTavish.

The diving teacher momentarily turned away from the group of beginners to negotiate some coral in poor visibility conditions, the court heard.

Ms Farrell panicked and swam to the surface for about 40 seconds, with witnesses describing hearing her call out and wave her arms in distress, but she was unable to stay afloat.

The skipper carrying out "surface watch" did not see Ms Farrell and her body was found on the seafloor an hour later.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Bethany Farrell was scuba diving off Blue Pearl Bay when she died

Mr O'Connell found there was "no suggestion that any introductory diver was properly instructed about achieving and maintaining positive buoyancy on the surface".

He made 12 recommendations for the diving industry after a three-day inquest into her death.

They included better training for divers before they head into open water, and that instructors should always be within arm's-length of their divers.

Ms Farrell's father, Patrick Farrell, said after the inquest his daughter was "a beautiful, kind, loving and amazing young lady whose loss is felt immeasurably".

He added: "Although we do not wish to comment specifically on matters that have arisen this week, we feel it has been a very comprehensive inquiry."

In 2016, an inquest in Essex into Ms Farrell's death found: "There were various failings in the way in which the diving activities were carried out."

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