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Thread: Rapid Ascent Caused Indianapolis Rescue Diver's Death

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Rapid Ascent Caused Indianapolis Rescue Diver's Death

    Rapid Ascent Caused Indianapolis Rescue Diver's Death


    Firefighter Warren J.C. Smith of the Indianapolis Fire Department died Sunday afternoon after a simulated diving rescue of a child in a gravel pit on the southwest side of the city.

    He died from a condition known as barotrauma, caused when a diver rises to the surface too rapidly, said Frances Kelly, Marion County chief deputy coroner. Gases in the body, such as oxygen and nitrogen, contract when divers descend and expand when they rise, Kelly said. If they rise too fast, the lungs can over-inflate, rip, and spill out air that can cause air clots. Air clots were found during Smith's autopsy Monday, Kelly said.

    "They were searching for a child dummy in about 70 feet of water," as part of a monthly training session, said Roger Birchfield, assistant PIO.

    Smith, 28, was a five-year veteran of the department and a member of station 14.

    Smith and his partner entered the water at about 1 p.m., followed by a second team. They had been in the water about five minutes when Smith's partner surfaced and another diver arose, yelling for help, Birchfield said.

    One diver cut off Smith's weight belt while others pulled him from the water and launched a boat to carry him the 100 feet to shore. The rescuers started CPR as soon as they had Smith on the boat.

    At 1:41 p.m. Life Line Helicopter air-lifted Smith to Methodist Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 2:14 p.m. "They shocked him about three times and brought him back once, but he went back under," Birchfield said.

    The divers first knew there was a problem when one of them encountered Smith thrashing under the water.

    Officials said additional causes of the tragedy will be examined, such as whether Smith ran out of air or had equipment problems.

    The joint investigation is being headed by the Marion County Sheriff's Department, in conjunction with the state police, the Department of Natural Resources and the Indianapolis Police Department dive team.

    Smith is survived by his father, Birchfield said.

    Services will be held Friday afternoon August 18th at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral 1400 N. Meridian St.

    Internment will be at Washington Park North

  2. #2
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    Smith, Warren J.C.

    Age: 28
    Rank: Firefighter, Private
    Status: Career
    Incident Date: 08/13/2000
    Incident Time: 13:05
    Death Date: 08/13/2000

    Cause of Death: Caught or Trapped
    Nature of Death: Asphyxiation (includes drowning)
    Emergency Duty: No
    Duty Type: Training
    Activity Type: Other
    Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Indianapolis Fire Department
    50 N. Alabama
    Suite E 208
    Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
    Chief: Louis Dezelan

    Final Summary:
    Private Smith was participating in dive training exercises at a local quarry. Private Smith and his company were simulating the rescue of a drowning child in 70 feet of water. Private Smith had been a certified team diver for 2 years. Private Smith failed to surface with his buddy and rescue attempts were commenced immediately. CPR was started in the water and continued during a boat ride to shore. Paramedics from a local rescue squad provided aid, and Private Smith was transported by helicopter to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Private Smith died of barotrauma, a condition caused when a diver rises to the surface of the water too quickly and suffers internal injuries as a result of gas expansion during the ascent.

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