ANNAPOLIS ROYAL – A diver that became trapped underwater at the Nova Scotia Power dam near Annapolis Royal July 15 has died.
His remains were recovered mid-afternoon.
McNeil said the man had been working underwater for about an hour and a half when he ran into trouble. He was wearing some high tech equipment at the time, including a video camera that was transmitting to the surface, quickly alerting the surface crew that there was a problem.
An autopsy is planned for July 16.
“My understanding is that he was down working on the gates and he became tangled up in something on the gate, and during that process, they lost voice communication with him,” McNeil told reporters. “The standby diver went down and untangled him and brought him up. The LifeFlight people worked on him for about 25 minutes, but he was pronounced deceased.”
Rescuers had to battle the fierce Fundy tides, which was coming in as they attempted to rescue the man.
The investigation was turned over the provincial Department of Labour after the man’s body was recovered. Occupational Health and Safety personnel were on the scene late in the day.
“The Department of Labour is here now and they have taken over,” McNeil said.
“I know they will be looking at his regulator, his mask and the communication device. My job is wait for the ME’s report. His remains have been taken to Dartmouth and I’m waiting on the ME’s report.”
Routine maintenance: NSP
The contracted diver was doing an inspection at the Annapolis Tidal Plant when the incident occurred, Nova Scotia Power communications manager David Rodenhiser confirmed.
The diver was employed by Paul’s Diving Services in Hammonds Plains. According to a profile of the company on the federal Industry Canada website, the business is owned by Greg Paul, a certified commercial diver with more than 20 years of experience. They are regularly employed by businesses and levels of government and are outfitted with the latest hardware and matched by a strong knowledge and experience base, the website states.
This type of maintenance is routine at the dam, Rodenizer said.
“Underwater diving for annual maintenance is a normal part of business at a hydro site,” Rodenizer said. “Our focus today is with the diver. We will be undertaking a full investigation of the incident and will co-operate with any investigation undertaken by the Department of Labour.”
Rodenhiser confirmed that the surface team lost contact with the diver, which prompted a call for help.
The dam, located on the causeway in Annapolis Royal, is only about 100 metres from the Annapolis Royal Fire Department. Firefighters were quickly at the scene and brought the department’s rescue boat. EHS vehicles were also located at the scene and LifeFlight arrived just before 2:45 p.m., landing at the public boat launch site.
Through mutual aid, fire departments in Kentville and Canning were called to bring their rope rescue teams.
McNeil was initially “very hopeful” that the diver would be rescued safely.
“This is a rescue operation,” McNeil said shortly before 3 p.m. “We appreciate everybody’s help.”
By 3:30 p.m., the Canning Fire Department had been released from the scene. Traffic in the area was moving very slowly and was backed up on the western side of the causeway. By 4 p.m., most of the ambulances at the scene and LifeFlight had also departed.