Arterial Gas Embolism a Common Danger in North Carolina Diving Accidents

The deep sea off the Atlantic Coast is a spectacular tour for history buffs and marine-life enthusiasts who enjoy all the photogenic beauty of the underwater world. Most deep-sea divers do it as a recreational hobby while others are commercial or military personnel who dive for a living. Our Gastonia personal injury lawyers want to remind divers that training professionals and operators have a responsibility to keep you safe. Divers face a number of hazards in the deepest levels of the sea, so use caution each time you take the plunge.
Star News Online reported recently about an underwater adventure that turned fatal for a 59 year-old veterinarian. A crew member aboard the Hawksbill made a call to the Coast Guard to report an emergency when they discovered that the diver had become unconscious following a 70-minute dive that reached a depth of 100 feet southeast of Bald Head Island. The Coast Guard responded by sending a utility boat and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter to rescue the man. The helicopter airlifted him to New Hanover Regional Medical Center, but not in time to save his life. A report by the medical examiner indicated that the diver had died from air embolus.

Besides the routine scrapes, cuts and bruises that are caused by contact with fish, sharp metal or fishing lines, divers also need to be concerned with other hazards when floating underwater. According to, there are four dangerous medical conditions that can also occur during a dive accident on the North Carolina Coast or elsewhere.

Divers can suffer from hearing loss and dizziness when inner ear barotrauma occurs. This condition is caused by an inability to get your ears to pop during a dive, which helps to equalize the pressure between your middle ear and the water. Pulmonary barotrauma is a condition caused by inadequate breathing when a diver ascends to the surface. A diver may experience hoarseness, shortness of breath and chest pain when suffering from this condition. A third and more serious medical condition that can occur is arterial gas embolism, which happens when bubbles enter the blood stream and reach the brain. Common symptoms for this condition are weakness, paralysis, numbness or tingling, and loss of consciousness.

Decompression sickness, more commonly known as “the bends” occurs as a diver is rising to the surface of the water. The body stores nitrogen gas in body tissues and blood. Decompression sickness is caused when it comes out of solutions and forms bubbles in the blood which causes blockage in various blood vessels or body tissues. Divers may experience dysfunction of lungs, brain or the spinal cord during this potentially fatal medical condition.

Recreational diving tips include:

-Don’t hold your breath during ascent. Breathe normally and rise slowly.

-If a problem arises under water or you become confused, get help from the dive master or your diving partner.

-Never drink and dive.

-Become knowledgeable about coral, fish, cave and other underwater hazards that can cause severe injury.

-Always check your equipment before a dive and make sure you have everything you need.

Lee Law Offices, P.A dive-accident attorneys are experienced in assisting victims who have suffered a diving injury off the coast of North Carolina or South Carolina. Call for a free no-obligation appointment to discuss your claim at 1-800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Man, 59, dies after offshore dive accident, by Brian Freskos & Julian March, Star News Online.

More Blog Entries:

Recurring Incidents in Beaufort Inlet Present a High Risk of Diving Accidents for North Carolina Divers, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, July 9, 2011.

Lake Norman Boaters at Risk for Accidents, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, August 11, 2011.

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