Tragic But Avoidable Christmas Deaths Don’t Result in New Safety Regulations

Adding "No, really!" probably wouldn't have mattered.On Christmas Day, a
father-and-son team
in an underwater cave in Florida. Darrin Spivey, 35,
and Dillon Sanchez, 15, decided to try out their Christmas
presents, diving equipment, in a dangerous underwater cave that had
previous claimed six other lives. The two of them died as well,
their bodies recovered later that evening.

A terrible tragedy, but also notable is the state of Florida’s
response. They’re not going to change anything. From the
Tampa Bay Times

The treacherous, isolated cave system where a Brooksville man
and his teenage son drowned Wednesday claimed at least six other
lives since 1981. But Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission officials said they have no plans to restrict access to
the Eagle Nest Sink.

A local diver, Larry Green, pushed for the cave to be opened for
access but wanted it regulated:

Yet while Green wanted the caves to be accessible, he and other
members of the diving community also recommended the Wildlife
Commission regulate the people who dive there. He pointed to nearby
Sand Hill Scout Reservation, a privately-owned Hernando County
location that requires two separate permits and 100 hours of cave
diving experience before allowing divers access to its underwater

When the commission took over, it installed large signs warning
of the danger. They also built a pier to make it easier to

“There’s very little to no supervision over it to check that
people with certification came out there,” Green said.

Spivey was apparently a certified diver but not a certified cave
diver. Sanchez was not a certified diver of any kind. A couple of
things to note:

  • There is a huge warning sign about the dangers of exploring the
    cave. As sad as it was for these two to have died in this way, they
    chose to ignore the sign.
  • The privately owned diving area has a vested interest in making
    sure safety is a top priority.

Every so often there’s a death in a state or national park and
inevitably somebody asks, “Can’t something be done?” But when
people choose to ignore the efforts to inform them of significant
risks, then they take on the responsibility for what happens

from Hit & Run

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