SCUBA Dive Company to Face Charges

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A WHITSUNDAY dive boat operator has been charged as a result of two divers going missing at sea in May last year.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has laid charges against AP Vessel Management Pty Ltd following the overnight stranding at sea of Richard Neely of the UK and Allyson Dalton of the USA.

The certified divers were missing overnight and rescued after a massive search activated by Queensland Water Police and involving ten aircraft and VMR and SES volunteers.

The incident sparked national and international media attention.

Charges have been laid against the company, which trades as Ozsail Skippered Yacht Charters, alleging it breached the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 by failing to ensure the health and safety of the two divers.

The divers were among 20 passengers on the company’s dive vessel Pacific Star that left Airlie Beach for a recreational diving trip to Bait Reef, off the Whitsunday islands.

Surfacing at the end of the dive on May 23, they could not get back to the vessel and drifted before being rescued the next morning.

The divers were spotted North West of Gary’s Lagoon by SES volunteer, Andrew Barker of Proserpine during his first helicopter search. They were airlifted to Hamilton Island where they were treated for hypothermia.

WHSQ will allege the company did not adequately manage the risk to the recreational divers’ safety.

WHSQ has advised the divers that the investigation is complete and charges have been laid.

The complaint is scheduled for first mention in the Proserpine Industrial Magistrates Court at 2pm on March 23.

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