East Hampton Town Police detectives and the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating the death of a scuba diver on a dive expedition that left from Montauk earlier this week.
The diver—identified as a 46-year-old British citizen, Steven Slater—was among a group of experienced divers who were descending to the notoriously dangerous Andrea Doria wreck, about 60 miles southeast of Nantucket. Police said they believe he experienced a problem with his diving suit or breathing apparatus and that he may have ascended from the 240-foot-deep wreck too quickly and died of acute decompression sickness.
“We know that he descended to the wreck and at some point encountered some sort of malfunction with his dry suit and related equipment which caused him to ascend, straight up,” East Hampton Town Police Captain Chris Anderson said on Thursday. “There was nothing to indicate he wasn’t following best practices regarding his diving procedures. The medical examiner will explore the possibility of a medical emergency but all indications right now are that it was equipment-related.”
Capt. Anderson said that the county has taken possession of Mr. Slater’s dive equipment for examination.
The incident happened Monday afternoon, shortly after the group began descending toward the wreck. Capt. Anderson said that other divers had said Mr. Slater, a seasoned diver who a friend told The Cape Cod Times was among the most skilled divers in the United Kingdom, ascended to the surface in just a couple of minutes, compared to the more than an hour a diver needs to take to avoid decompression sickness.
“It had to be scary,” Capt. Anderson said. “The diver he was with, she took 70 minutes to get up.”
When Mr. Slater was brought back aboard the dive boat, the Ol’ Salty II, the crew notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the medical emergency and that they were performing CPR. A helicopter was dispatched to…