Please stop unless cave trained!
This is the reason why we need to be aware of our own limitations, always respect safety rules and dive with people who are properly qualified, responsible and with the right training.
Date : August 17th 1995 – Location : Sistema Temple of Doom
Victim : Two open water divers and a female
This tragic accident began as a dive store organized trip from Cozumel. The store owners had received inquiries about cenote diving from customers. They decided to schedule a trip and hire a local Divemaster who had previously lived in the village of Tulum and was familiar with the local cenotes.
He was not certified in cavern or cave diving, nor was he a ‘qualified’ guide. With five paying customers, the group traveled to the Gran Cenote located five kilometers from Tulum. The group of eight made the dive and thoroughly enjoyed the dive without incident. The spectacular beauty. shallow depths and crystal clear warm water had everyone enthusiastic and the ‘hook of trust’ was now in place with their guide.
They decided to drive down the road to the Cenote Temple of Doom (known locally as Cenote Esqueleto) and make a second dive. Entering the cenote, the divemaster’s overconfidence took control and instead of taking the group on the traditional cavern tour, which consists of a 360 degree permanent guideline (all easily within the sight of natural daylight), he took the group of eight into the passage known as the ‘Madonna’ and into the cave system. The last member of the group (The male owner of the divestore) became very stressed, bailed out. and returned to the surface.
This passage is very large and brilliantly white making it very easy to swim and follow a guideline. The group continued further into the cave with the divemaster leading.
After swimming approximately 250 Feet/75 meters in, two members of the group became very uncomfortable and turned around to exit. The divemaster was totally unaware of this. Further into the cave the three remaining members became stressed, not knowing how far they were from the cenote and were now getting low on air.
Confusion and stress contributed to the situation as everyone was now desperately trying to swim back to the cenote. The three victims ran out of air at the beginning of the ‘Madonna’ passage. The divemaster managed to make it back to the surface and obtained the scuba tank from the dive store owner who bailed out at the start of the dive.
Returning to the ‘Madonna passage the divemaster found two divers dead brings the wife of the divestore owner back to the surface. They were able to get her out of the cenote and rush her to the Red Cross station in Tulum where she died. This information was obtained through local police officials.