Following the boy’s death on a school trip in March 2020, the coroner called for a code of practice for scuba diving.
Ethan Fitzpatrick, 16, drowned after getting into difficulties while learning outdoors at Lake Rotoma, near Rotorua.
He was in Year 12 at Tarawera High School and was a competent swimmer and had achieved NCEA Level 2 in scuba diving.
On the day of his death, he was with a group of 15 students and two teachers.
Coroner Matthew Bates said the boy was unobserved for about 15 to 25 seconds and somehow became distressed, inhaled water and became unresponsive.
At that time, he was practicing duck diving with a friend.
After he was found in distress, he was pulled from the water.
Members of the public, including an off-duty EMS technician and a firefighter, began CPR. CPR continued for about an hour after EMS arrived, but Ethan never regained consciousness and died at the scene.
A subsequent investigation by WorkSafe found that the school had failed to carry out effective emergency planning and failed to provide effective supervision.
The coroner said phone coverage in the area was spotty and the teacher had to drive half a kilometer to call 911.
He said there was no evidence to determine whether immediate notification would have changed the outcome for Ethan.
The coroner heard there were no specific guidelines for open water scuba diving in New Zealand.
Bates said the Queensland code of practice would be suitable for New Zealand to achieve regulated health, safety and welfare standards for snorkelling and recreational diving.
He said the Queensland code would centralize and simplify the obligations of duty bearers.
“In this example, that includes the school’s board of trustees, the EOTC coordinator, and the instructors, teachers and administrators.”
The coroner also called for easy access to a defibrillator during training outside the classroom.
Source link – https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/490725/coroner-snorkelling-standards-needed-after-teen-s-death